Harvard Men's Health Watch

Statin side effects: How common are they?

Reported side effects of statins include muscle pain, diabetes, and memory problems. Most people do not experience any side effects and the drug may not be the cause. Going off the statin temporarily and then starting again, called a statin rechallenge, can confirm whether the drug is the cause of the problem. For confirmed muscle side effects, adjusting the dose can reverse them. A typical approach is to use a more potent statin, at a lower dose, and only several times per week. The chance of diabetes is relatively small and often occurs in people whose blood sugar is already elevated. The evidence for major problems with memory and mental function due to statin use is not clear. Once starting a statin, it is necessary to stay on it long-term to get the promised benefit of reducing risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from heart-related causes.
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