Are Statins Bad For You?

Statins are medications generally prescribed for people who have blocked arteries and need to lower the level of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) or "bad cholesterol" in their blood. These drugs lower the risk of deaths caused by heart diseases due to high cholesterol, per Healthline. Statins prevent the liver from producing an enzyme that helps the body make LDL cholesterol. According to WebMD, they also stabilize cholesterol and plaque in the arteries, which prevents them from breaking free and causing a stroke or heart attack. In addition, statins work to reduce arterial inflammation.

People who take statins can expect to see improvement in their LDL numbers, lowering them by up to 50%, per WebMD. Many people who have had a heart attack or stroke are prescribed statins in the hope that the drugs might reduce the chance of another one. Dr. Jennifer Robinson, director of the Prevention Intervention Center at the University of Iowa, tells WebMD, "I think you can safely say that a moderate dose [of statins] will reduce the risk of either a heart attack or stroke by 30%."

Statins aren't for everyone

Just like with most medications, statins have side effects. One of the more severe reactions to statins is rhabdomyolysis, which is rare, but can cause muscles to break down, especially in individuals who have liver disease or diabetes (via Cleveland Clinic). Liver damage is also a serious side effect because statins might cause the liver to produce more enzymes in some people. Other potential side effects of statins may include an increase in their blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics, confusion or memory loss, and overall muscle pain, according to Mayo Clinic.

Those at risk for adverse reactions are those who are currently taking other drugs to reduce cholesterol or have hypothyroidism, neuromuscular disorders, or kidney or liver disease. If you are female, drink too much alcohol, or are 80 or older, your risks for side effects also increase (via Mayo Clinic). Some medications also increase the chances of negative reactions. Furthermore, grapefruit juice contains enzymes that might make you end up with too many statins in your digestive system. Mayo Clinic suggests speaking with your doctor about any concerns before deciding if statins are best for you.