Is it Safe to Use Statins?

Why statins can make you sick

Transmission date: 03/19/2013 8:15 p.m. | archive

Medicines that have been taken and tolerated for years without problems can suddenly lead to serious side effects. This can be the case when other medicines are added or certain foods that affect the metabolism.

An impressive example of this is the frequently prescribed cholesterol-lowering drug simvastatin: in combination with certain other drugs or with grapefruit, it can lead to so-called rhabdomyolysis and even kidney failure. During rhabdomyolysis, the striated muscles dissolve and disintegrate. Extreme muscle pain is the result and in the worst case this development can even be life-threatening. For those affected, rhabdomyolysis initially feels like typical sore muscles. Within a few days, the muscles break down extremely and the strength dwindles.

Blood tests provide information

The blood test for creatine kinase provides an important clue. If this value is very high, it is a sign of muscle breakdown in the body. If the person concerned takes a drug that can lead to this side effect, the doctor stops it and looks for triggers for possible interactions - i.e. other drugs or food.

Blocks the cholesterol-lowering drug simvastatin

The cholesterol-lowering drug simvastatin is broken down in the body by a specific enzyme that also processes an ingredient in grapefruit, naringin. Naringin blocks the enzyme so that it can no longer break down simvastatin. The result: the concentration of the drug in the blood increases and in the worst case leads to the dreaded muscle breakdown.

Some antibiotics (erythromycin), antihypertensive agents (verapamil, diltiazem), agents against cardiac arrhythmias (amiodarone), other fat lowering agents (fibrates), antidepressants (nefazadone) or antifungal agents also have this effect.

Important information on the package insert

If you want to be on the safe side, you should therefore look in the interactions section of the patient information leaflets for your medication to see whether they contain any special foods that impair the effect or hinder the breakdown of the active ingredient and should avoid them while taking the medication. In addition, tablets should always be taken with tap water, never with fruit juice or milk.

Interview partner:

In the studio:
Prof. Dr. Dr. Ingolf Cascorbi
Institute for Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology
University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Kiel
Arnold-Heller-Strasse 3 (House 30)
24105 Kiel
Tel. (0431) 597 35 01

In the post:
Prof. Dr. Wolfram Terres
Head of the Cardiology Clinic
General Hospital Celle
Siemensplatz 4
29223 Celle

This topic in the program:

Visit | 03/19/2013 | 8:15 pm