Statins side effects: The ‘classic triad’ of symptoms indicating you need a lower dose

This Morning: Dr Chris reveals grapefruit can affect statins

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There are a “classic triad” of symptoms to be aware of, which are symbolic of rhabdomyolysis – a health complication of taking statins. Here’s what to look out for. Muscle pain in the shoulders, thighs or lower back is one of three warning signs of rhabdomyolysis, WebMD confirmed. Another typical sign of the condition is muscle weakness, or trouble moving your arms or leg.

The third symptom may include dark red or brown urine, or decreased frequency of urination.

Other signs of rhabdomyolysis may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever, rapid heart rate
  • Confusion, dehydration, fever, or lack of consciousness

In rare cases, the condition may lead to the loss of life; this is why any of these symptoms need to be investigated by a GP.

High doses of statins have been recognised as one of many culprits for this condition, including illegal drug use.

Early diagnosis and treatment is critical to a successful outcome.

If caused by a high dosage of statins, the GP will either alter the dosage, the brand of statins, or prohibit you from taking the medication at all.

People at higher risk of rhabdomyolysis include:

  • Those over the age of 70
  • Having a history of liver disease
  • Regularly drinking large quantities of alcohol
  • A history of muscle-related side effects
  • Family history of myopathy or rhabdomyolysis

People who fall into this category that are prescribed statins should be monitored frequently for complications, said the NHS.

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Statins can also interact with other medications, such as antibiotics and immunosuppressants.

Not only that, side effects such as muscle deterioration, is more likely if you drink grapefruit.

Dr Ian Needland, an interventional cardiologist, said that the benefits of statins “greatly outweigh the risks”.

Speaking candidly in a podcast ([email protected]), Dr Needland added that statins provide greater benefits the longer you use them.

As statins do lower cholesterol levels, a person’s risk of heart disease also decreases.

Addressing the side effect of myalgia (which can turn into rhabdomyolysis), Dr Needland said it is “extremely rare”.

Anyone concerned with taking statins are advised to speak to their doctor.

“The important thing is to keep taking your statin if your doctor has determined that it’s beneficial for you in the long run,” said Dr Needland.

He added: “I always say that prevention is the best medicine.

“And statins are certainly one of the most important tools we have in cardiology to prevent heart attacks and strokes.”

Other lifestyle guidance to reduce the risk of heart disease includes decreasing saturated fat in your diet.

Food high in saturated fat:

  • Cakes
  • Biscuits
  • Sausages
  • Bacon
  • Cheese
  • Salami
  • Chorizo
  • Butter
  • Ghee

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