Accumulation of cholesterol is a common problem these days. It is associated with some of the dangerous health conditions like coronary heart disease, stroke, heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure etc. According to a research published in the Indian Heart Journal, high cholesterol is present in 25 to 30 per cent of urban and 15 to 20 per cent of rural population. The prevalence is higher in developed countries. The international health body, WHO, states that raised cholesterol level is estimated to cause 2.6 million deaths and 29.7 million disability around the globe almost every year.
In order to lower the levels of cholesterol, doctors prescribe a type of drug known as statin. HMG-CoA reductase is an enzyme that helps in the production of cholesterol in the body. And, your liver stimulates this enzyme. The work of statin starts here. It blocks the location where this enzyme is produced. It also blocks the action of other molecules responsible for producing cholesterol. Moreover, this drug absorbs the cholesterol already present in the body. It does so by reducing the amount of lipid. Not only this, statins help in reducing the levels of bad cholesterol and increasing levels of good cholesterol. Notably, when you are taking this medication, you should eat healthy, quit smoking, avoid alcohol consumption and exercise daily. But long-term intake of statins can be hazardous for your health.
STATIN AND DIABETES: THE LINK
According to a recent research published in the journal Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews, long-term consumption of statin can double your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. This means that a drug that is meant to provide you protection from various heart ailment, can contribute to another medical problem.
For this study, the scientists enrolled 4,683 men and women with an average of 46. They were not suffering from diabetes during the study but were at an increased risk of developing heart diseases. Also, they had not taken statin drug till the start of the research. The doctors prescribed this drug to 16 per cent (in total 755 patients) of the subjects. They took the drug continuously from 2011 to 2014.
Further, the scientists analyzed health records and other data of these patients. They found that the patients who took the cholesterol-lowering drugs for more than two years had more than three times the risk of developing diabetes than those who did not receive the drug. The study team also noticed that statin users were 6.5 per cent more likely to have an increased level of HbA1c (hemoglobin that is bound to glucose). This meant an increased blood sugar level in the blood.
HOW STATIN MAY IMPACT YOUR HEALTH NEGATIVELY
Apart from diabetes, statin is associated with various other health problems. However, the benefits of these drugs outweigh the risks, say experts. While there is no doubt about the efficacy of statins as cholesterol-lowering drugs, one needs to be aware of the side effects too.
Like every other drug, the most common side-effects of statins include headache, nausea and overall weakness. Muscle weakness or tendonitis may also be seen. Gastro-intestinal problems like constipation, diarrhea and vomiting can occur. Rare side-effects like memory loss, difficulty in concentrating, forgetfulness, amnesia and memory impairment have also been reported. For these rare side-effects, the symptoms may start one day to years after starting treatment and may resolve within a median of three weeks after stopping the statin.
Here we take you through some of the major health conditions linked to the use of statins.
Statins may cause muscle pain and damage
This is one of the most common complaints of people who take statins. Regular intake of statins can lead to pain as a soreness, tiredness or weakness in muscles. The pain can be mild or severe. However, discuss with your doctor about the same before popping painkillers. Very rarely, statins can cause life-threatening muscle damage called rhabdomyolysis. The risk of very serious side effects is extremely low and calculated in a few cases per million of patients taking statins.
Can lead to liver damage
Though the rare, regular use of statin could signal liver inflammation by increasing enzyme production. If the increase is only mild, statins could still be a fine choice to lower cholesterol. But if the increase is severe, one might need to try a different statin. Although liver problems are rare, we may order a liver enzyme test before or shortly after you begin to take a statin.
Likely to increase blood sugar levels
There is a possibility that your blood sugar levels increase once you start talking statin, which may lead to developing type 2 diabetes. The risk is very small but important for your knowledge. Statins prevent heart attacks in patients with diabetes, so the relevance of the mild increase in sugar values with statins observed in some patients is unclear. The benefit of taking statins likely outweighs the small risk to have the blood sugar level go up.
Can trigger neurological side effects
Way back in 2012, the FDA brought about a change in the drug labels of statins to include the information that some people taking these drugs had reported memory loss and confusion. However, experts in the field are of the opinion that this was based on insufficient and low-quality evidences. It has been found that many of the people who reported memory loss took the drug only for one day. There is another school of thought which suggests that most patients on statins are either middle-aged or older adults. So, memory loss could be related to their age as well. Conclusive proof against statin as a trigger behind dementia or memory loss is yet to be found. Cardiologists also say that the complaints of statin patients about confusion and fuzziness are temporary, which can be tackled by changing the dosage or medicine. In fact, some recent studies have shown that statins boost your cerebral health by protecting your brain arteries. In fact, a research presented at the European Society of Cardiology found that high potency statins can protect you against dementia. The study involved 58,000 patients.
Published: August 13, 2019 2:34 pm