The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recently issued a new safety alert for ‘high dose statin’ drugs prescribed by Doctors to lower cholesterol in patients at risk for heart disease.
The FDA named the prescription drugs Crestor (rosuvastatin), Lipitor (atorvastatin), Zocor (simvastatin), and Pravachol (pravastatin), as well as the combination drug Vytorin (zetia/simvastatin) in the safety alert.
The warning stated that the use of these drugs in high doses may be linked to memory loss, diabetes, and muscle pain.
This was a general statement derived from a recent review of many different studies that were all part of the Women’s Health Initiative.
The conclusions made from the analysis of these studies are likely overstated.
Last year 21 million American patients were prescribed one of the statin drugs to lower their cholesterol and reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke.
The benefits of taking a statin drug to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke are indisputable from numerous studies over many years of research done on the statin drugs.
The side effects of these medications are of low incidence and the knowledge that blood sugars may worsen in some patients has been known for years and have been included in their package insert from the beginning of distribution of the drugs.
Any patient on one of these statins should never stop taking their medication on their own without first consulting their Doctor.
The bottom line is that for the patient taking a statin drug to help lower their risk of heart disease and stroke by lowering cholesterol, the benefits of these medications far outweigh the risk of raising blood sugar, forgetfulness or muscle pain.
However, any patient who has concerns that they have a significant side effect to their statin medication (or any prescription medication they take), please see your Doctor for advice on what you should do before stopping your medication.