Canadian health officials have warned that Statin drugs used to reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol in the body and improve the levels of HDL can cause serious muscle damage.
Health Canada has now insisted that statin drug manufacturers such as Lipitor, Pravachol, Zocor, Crestor and Mevacor to include warnings and information about the potential for muscle damage on patient safety information sheets.
Statin drug users usually experience a side effect of general muscle pain. The drugs can even lead to a potentially fatal muscle-wasting disease called rhabdomyolysis in patients with certain pre-existing medical conditions. Rhabdomyolysis involves destruction of muscle cells, which are released into the bloodstream leading to kidney problems and subsequently its failure.
Health Canada spokesperson Jirina Vlk stated that the warnings need to be included as a precautionary measure. He said, "There's a high number of Canadians prescribed statins, so we want them to be aware of the risks associated with that".
In the United States too, millions of people are prescribed statin drugs. It was found that in 2001, Americans filled over 57 million prescriptions for Lipitor. Some of the other possible side effects of statin drugs include nausea, constipation, diarrhea and even severe memory and mental awareness problems.
Recent studies have showed that cholesterol levels can be improved naturally by making changes to the diet and exercise regime. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has shown that including foods like almonds, cereal fibers, tofu, plant sterols and soy products can lower total cholesterol more effectively than statin drugs.