Statins – worth the risk?


The FDA has issued new safety warnings for the labels on statin drugs (Lipitor, Crestor, simvastatin, etc). Statins are one of the types of cholesterol medications available, and they have the best data for preventing heart disease in women and men. The warnings state that statins may cause reversible confusion or memory loss. They also state that statins can increase blood sugars and lead to diabetes in the long run.

In light of these warnings, are statins worth the risks?

YES. Statins can significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes in people who are at increased risk. Therefore, you should know your risk for heart attack and stroke before taking these medications. For intermediate or high risk patients, the benefits DO outweigh the risks.

If you are experiencing possible side effects from statin therapy (confusion, muscle pain/weakness, or elevated blood sugars), call your physician and discuss whether to stop taking your statin. There are many statins available now, and some of these are better tolerated than others.

If you have tried several statins and do not tolerate them, then diet control is even more important than ever. Improving your cholesterol numbers with diet modification and exercise is important for everyone (and may mean lower doses of your medications which can mean lower cost, fewer side effects).