November 29, 2014
Doctor taking a senior woman

4 Possible Statin Risks

by Berkeley Wellness  |  

In addition to muscle pain, cholesterol-lowering statins have been linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, fatigue, liver inflammation and memory issues. Here's the lowdown.

Diabetes. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now requires statin labels to warn about an increased risk of elevated blood sugar and type 2 diabetes. Thus, doctors should monitor blood sugar in statin users. Keep in mind, because people who already have diabetes face increased coronary risk, most of them should take a statin.

Liver inflammation. This used to be a major concern, but research has found that statin-related liver problems are rare and seldom progress to serious disease. Moreover, in 2012 the FDA decided that statin labels should no longer mention the need for routine blood tests for liver enzymes because they are not effective in detecting or preventing the rare problem. The FDA does advise testing before starting statin therapy.

Fatigue. Last year a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that statin users were more likely to report a decline in overall energy and increased fatigue with exertion than those taking a placebo. Women appeared to be affected more. Fatigue can be caused by many things, of course. This was the first clinical trial to suggest this problem, so more research is needed.

Memory problems. Despite anecdotal reports linking statins to forgetfulness, confusion, and feeling fuzzy or unfocused, it’s not known whether these claims are truly caused by the drugs. Some research, in fact, suggests that statins reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia, since atherosclerosis can adversely affect the brain, too.