Rhabdomyolysis and Statins
Could Land You In the Hospital
What is the connection between Rhabdomyolysis and Statins? Rhabdomyolysis is an incredibly dangerous muscle wasting condition that damages and destroys muscle tissue to such an extent that it requires hospitalization and can lead to kidney failure and even death if not treated quickly and aggressively. It may shock you to find out that this dangerous life threatening of rhabdomyolysis and statins condition is a very real possibility when taking statin drugs, but the FDA has had over 400 reports of rhabdomyolyis and statins - and one statin, Baycol, was completely removed from the market due to it causing an excessive number of cases of this dangerous muscle wasting statin side effect.
Rhabdomyolysis occurs when muscle is damaged to such an extent that cells themselves are damaged and die in large numbers. When muscle cells die, they release the contents of their cells which contain many toxic substances including a substance called 'creatinine kinase' or 'creatinine phosphokinase' also known as CK or CPK on laboratory tests. Creatinine kinase in small amounts is always able to be detected since muscles are always dying and being replaced, but rhabdomyolysis and statins occurs when CK or CPK is at least 10 times the levels that are present normally. While not everyone with high CK levels has rhabdomyolysis, EVERYONE with rhabdomyolysis has high CK levels that are at least 10 times the normal level.
If you have high CK levels and do NOT have rhabdomyolysis, you still have some degree of muscle cell death that is damaging your body and it is not to be ignored but if it's not 10 times higher than normal and you are not EXTREMELY sick, then you do not have rhabdomyolysis. Having rhabdomyolyis is a matter of 'degree' and to be diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, you will be VERY VERY ill, likely enough to be in the hospital and possibly even sick enough to be in the intensive care unit and/or to require some form of life support. In other words, if you have high CK levels and you are reading this right now, rest assured that you do NOT have rhabdomyolysis- although you still need to find out why you are having muscle death and take action to stop it.
While statin drugs are not the only reason for rhabdomyolysis, rhabdomyolysis and statins is a rare but very real problem that can devastate the person affected who may end up with permanent Statin Drug Muscle Weakness and muscle pain from the damage that these drugs do.
Why Does this Happen
Another name for statins are '3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase inhibitors' and this gives us a hint as to what the problem is that allows statins to cause muscle damage. The mechanism behind why rhabdomyolysis and statins happen is that statins block the pathway that creates cholesterol, effectively decreasing cholesterol, but cholesterol is not the ONLY substance on that pathway. Just like when a stream is dammed and flow decreases or is stopped downstream, blocking the substance that blocks cholesterol production also blocks the production of substances 'downstream' as well.
Some of the substances that are 'downstream' of this pathway are:
- Coenzyme Q10
- 'Isoprenylated regulatory proteins' includingselenocysteine-tRNA - an isoprenylated protein required for the production of selenium
"These GTP-binding proteins are important in
cell health and control of apoptosis, or cell death.
If statins inhibit the activation of these
regulatory proteins, uncontrolled cell death may occur.
Thus, inhibition of isoprenylated regulatory proteins
also may account for adverse muscle effects."
Potential Adverse Effects of Statins on Muscle
Are You At Risk
You are at a higher risk for Rhabdomyolyis and statins if you:
- Are of older age
- Take other drugs in combination with the statins particularly fibrates and niacin (nicotinic acid) (see page on statin drug interactions)
- Take a higher dosage of statins
- Have other health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.
- Being Smaller
- Recent surgery
If you Exercise
One study showed that if you exercise, you may be at a higher risk for muscle related complications of statins. The marker of muscle damage that we talked about previously, called Creatinine Kinase, normally is slightly elevated after exercise due to the small amounts of muscle damage experienced. But exercising when you take statins raises these CK levels even higher and they remain elevated for up to 48 hours.
So, think about this for a minute. Your doctor has likely told you that the best way to reduce your cholesterol and risk of heart disease is through 'diet and exercise' right? Then he goes and puts you on one of the very few drugs in existence that can harm you if you decide to try to exercise. Hmmm.
Alternatives to Statins
If you are currently on statins and/or your doctor has recommended that you take them to 'reduce your risk of heart disease', only you can decide whether the risk of Statin Side Effects is worth the small reduction in heart disease that statins create. But I urge you to take a look at The Great Cholesterol Lie program to hear another side to the cholesterol and statin debate.
Dr. Lundell was a cardiac surgeon for many years and prescribed statins to thousands of patients. But he has done a 180 degree turnaround and has given up surgery in favor of PREVENTING heart disease- and he doesn't do it by prescribing statins. Rhabdomyolysis and Statins is a serious side effect of these cholesterol lowering drugs that can lead to hospitalization, permanent muscle pain and even death. But this is only ONE of the statin side effects. Keep reading to read about even more statin side effects…
Statin Drug Muscle Weakness
Back to Top of Rhabdomyolysis and Statins
To Side Effects Site Home Page