Between 2003 and 2012 roughly one in four Americans aged 40 and older were taking a cholesterol-lowering medication, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Don't stop taking your statin medication before talking to your doctor. Risk of Developing Side Effects. Having too much cholesterol in your blood increases your risk of heart attacks and strokes. Some drugs that may interact with statins and increase your risk of side effects include: There are many drugs that may interact with statins, so be sure your doctor is aware of all the medicines you take when being prescribed with statins. M A Aleem . Interestingly, statins can produce very different outcomes in different patients, depending on an individual's medical history, the statin and the dose. The effects of statins are complex. © 1998-2019 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). The FDA warns on statin labels that some people have developed memory loss or confusion while taking statins. If you think you're experiencing side effects from statins, don't just stop taking the pills. If the increase is only mild, you can continue to take the drug. The FDA warns on statin labels that some people have developed memory loss or confusion while taking statins. Even if your side effects are frustrating, don't stop taking your statin medication for any period of time without talking to your doctor first. A "nocebo" effect means people who have negative expectations about a medication report experiencing the potential side effect at higher rates than the drug should cause. A smaller proportion of patients report peripheral neuropathy—burning, numbness or tingling in their extremities—poor sleep, and greater irritability and aggression. provides accurate and independent information on more than 24,000 prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines and natural products. These side effects reverse once you stop taking the medication. Some experts note that statin side effects can take longer than a few weeks to develop. A new study tracked how they did. Rarely, if the increase is severe, you may need to try a different statin. Statins Side Effect #1: Muscle Pain. Neurologist While statins are highly effective and safe for most people, they have been linked to muscle pain, digestive problems and mental fuzziness in some people who take them and may rarely cause liver damage. The benefit of taking statins likely outweighs the small risk to have the blood sugar level go up. Numerous side effects are associated with statins and these side effects can often deter patients from using the drug. Rhabdomyolysis can occur when you take statins in combination with certain drugs or if you take a high dose of statins. Statins include atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol XL), lovastatin (Altoprev), pitavastatin (Livalo), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor, Ezallor) and simvastatin (Zocor, FloLipid). Statins can produce muscles pain and weakness. I had MRI and MRA scans and EEG and transcranial Doppler testing. While you won't need to eliminate grapefruit entirely from your diet, ask your doctor about how much grapefruit you can have. © 2020 Scientific American, a Division of Springer Nature America, Inc. Support our award-winning coverage of advances in science & technology. Very rarely, statins can cause life-threatening muscle damage called rhabdomyolysis (rab-doe-my-OL-ih-sis). Statins can indeed produce neurological effects. The FDA warns on statin labels that some people have developed memory loss or confusion while taking statins. The increase generally occurs when blood sugar levels are already higher than normal and fall in the prediabetes or diabetes range when you begin taking a statin. Who's at risk of developing statin side effects? I brought up Statins side effects; again I was assured these were not caused by Lipitor. Occasionally, statin use could cause an increase in the level of enzymes that signal liver inflammation. Scientific American is part of Springer Nature, which owns or has commercial relations with thousands of scientific publications (many of them can be found at, Scientific American Mind Volume 27, Issue 4. Rhabdomyolysis can cause severe muscle pain, liver damage, kidney failure and death. Do you have a question about the brain you would like an expert to answer? Talk to your doctor to see if a change of dosage or even a different type of medication might be helpful. Neurological side effects. Cataract. The most common adverse effects include muscle symptoms, fatigue and cognitive problems. The easiest way to lookup drug information, identify pills, check interactions and set up your own personal medication records. Memory loss, disorientation, and confusion can also result from taking high cholesterol medication. These drugs are typically prescribed to lower cholesterol and thereby reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Neurological side effects. These side effects reverse once you stop taking the medication. For instance, some patients taking statins develop ALS or ALS-like conditions with progressive muscle wasting, which sometimes resolve when the patients stop taking the medication. in SA Mind 27, 4, 72 (July 2016), doi:10.1038/scientificamericanmind0716-72a, 12 hours ago — James K. Boyce | Opinion, November 27, 2020 — Cyler Conrad | Opinion, November 27, 2020 — Melissa C. Lott | Opinion, November 27, 2020 — John Fialka and E&E News. Subscribers get more award-winning coverage of advances in science & technology. Competing interests: No competing interests. 12 She reports that in many cases, patients told her they had complained to their doctors about neurological problems, only to be assured that … The risk is small but important enough that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning on statin labels regarding blood glucose levels and diabetes. In 2015 my colleagues and I observed that women taking statins, on average, showed increased aggression; men typically showed less, possibly because of reduced testosterone levels. Your doctor may be able to come up with an alternative treatment plan that can help you lower your cholesterol without uncomfortable side effects. You may feel this pain as a soreness, tiredness or weakness in your muscles. Available for Android and iOS devices. The pain can be a mild discomfort, or it can be severe enough to make your daily activities difficult. We hope that further study will shed light on the neurological problems statins can cause and explain how to better protect those who experience these troubling complications. Data sources include IBM Watson Micromedex (updated 2 Nov 2020), Cerner Multum™ (updated 2 Nov 2020), ASHP (updated 23 Oct 2020) and others. Frightened, I decided that I must have had a stroke. Statins are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for high cholesterol in the United States. These side effects reverse once you stop taking the medication. Some men in our study did experience a marked increase in aggression, which was correlated with worsening sleep. I was sent for a Neuropsychological test at the head injuries center. These side effects, however, resolve with stopping statin therapy. Make sure you coordinate with your Doctor if you are thinking about stopping the Statins. The risk of very serious side effects is extremely low, and calculated in a few cases per million people taking statins. Statins are linked to a few rare but potentially serious side effects, including: Myositis, which is inflammation of the muscles. Risk factors include: Grapefruit juice contains a chemical that can interfere with the enzymes that break down (metabolize) the statins in your digestive system. Neurological side effects. Advertisement. The researchers stated: “In addition, … Statins can indeed produce neurological effects. Some patients decide to stop taking statins, a cholesterol-lowering drug, if they experience side effects. 22 September 2016. Remember that statin medications can reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke, and the risk of life-threatening side effects from statins is very low. In rare cases, long-term side effects of statins include neurological problems like memory loss and confusion. Statins also appear to increase or decrease aggression. Neurological Side Effects. While statins have side effects, some people may be more likely to develop these effects. Cataract is an eye condition in which the lens is clouded. However, researchers have found a "nocebo" effect when it comes to perceived muscle pain and statins. The drugs may play a role in triggering symptoms, at least in those cases, but may also prevent the progression of such conditions in some settings. Holiday Sale: Save 25%, Beatrice Alexandra Golomb, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, responds.