Statin medications: their risks and benefits

Statin medications: their risks and benefits

Statin Medications are a common medication that is prescribed in general practice. A frequent question that patients ask about in general practice is about the safety of cholesterol medications, specifically a type of medications called statin medications.

After the Catalyst program aired in 2013, many patients stopped these medications out of concerns for their side effects (see the video report here). Unfortunately the large majority of patient who stopped them were those patients who were most likely to benefit from them.

In answer to the questions about side effects, there are lots of side effects to all statin medications. However, if you read the side effect of any medication there are always many many side effects. The same applies to over the counter and natural medicines (especially st john’s wort which also reacts with many medications!).

For statins, known side effects include muscle and stomach pains, headaches and sleep problems, dizziness and liver problems. Serious problems occur very rarely with less than 1 out of a 100 people on these medications. Serious problems can include damage to muscle tissue, kidney, liver, pancreas, skin, lung, blood, nerves and other major issues.

However, these medications also protect against strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, kidney problems and many other things and this needs to be balanced with the side effects that they may have.

Generally doctors recommend that patients don’t suddenly stop these medications without talking to your doctor or seeking medical attention.

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For urgent concerns consider calling 000. For non urgent free advice call Health Direct on 1800 022 222. For non urgent review call us on (02) 4237 7502 to make a booking or if needing out of hours medical review consider the local radio doctor (bulk billing, from Scarborough to Gerroa only) on (02) 4228 5522.