Guide Medicinal Product

Cholesterol medications: the side effects of medications

Like all medications, those that work against excess cholesterol in the blood can be responsible for unwanted side effects. There has been a lot of talk about the effects of statins.

To read the leaflets of these drugs (such as simvastatin), it is clear that the undesirable side effects listed are numerous.

  • Some side effects are very rare (<1 / 10, 000 cases): insomnia, liver failure ...
  • Others are rare (between 1/10 000 and 1/1 000): headaches, anemia, vertigo, itching, hair loss, various digestive disorders ...
The serious side effects of these drugs are less than 1%.

They are characterized by: rhabdomyolosis, myalgia (muscle pain), abnormal elevation of liver enzymes, transaminases (ALT and ASAT).

The occurrence of these side effects is partly related to the dose of the absorbed drug.

It is especially these muscular problems (muscle cramps, rhabdomyolysis, myalgia ...) which made talk about them. For statins, these muscle disorders are usually related to the dose of the absorbed drug.

For some patients (over 65, women ...), the doctor can determine the level of CPK (creatine phosphokinase) before giving the drug, and after. And if this rate increases excessively after the absorption of the drug, it will have to be stopped.

According to a 2015 statement from the French Medicines Agency (Ansm), this one indicates that among the undesirable effects identified, some (very rare) correspond to necrotizing myopathies with autoimmune mediations. These diseases are linked to taking certain statins. This requires stopping the course of course, and taking immunosuppressive drugs.

Another precaution is related to the functioning of the liver. And assays of liver enzymes (transaminases) can be performed even before taking statins, but also after starting treatment, or after the dosage has been increased (blood test 3 months later). In case of exaggerated elevation of liver enzymes, discontinuation of treatment may be required.

It should be noted that recent statin studies have shown a higher risk of developing diabetes with these drugs.

This risk would be related to the dose of statin taken. In a report written in 2015, the High Authority of Health writes: "the dose-dependent diabettigen effect would have been underestimated until now because insufficiently researched in the studies".

Note that statins do not increase the risk of cancer (at least this has not been found in the many studies on this class of drugs).

The reimbursement of rosuvastatin (Crestor) has been subject to prior agreement since 2016, since this statin has no particular interest compared with other statins, for similar undesirable effects, as well as doubts about an increase in renal failure.

The contraindications of statins

Statins are contraindicated in case of:

  • pregnancy and lactation.
  • a liver problem with, in particular, an increase in liver enzymes (transaminases) in the blood.
  • Then, statins can not be taken with certain other drugs (like anti-HIV, itraconazole, an antibiotic (erythromycin), nefazodone ...).

Want to react, share your experience or ask a question? See you in our FORUMS Cholesterol !

Read also :

> Cholesterol
> Too much cholesterol, which diet?
> What diet for diabetes?

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