Common Side Effects of Statin Cholesterol Medicine

What are statins?

Statins are a type of prescription medicine that are used to treat high cholesterol. High cholesterol increases the risk for serious ailments such as heart attack, stroke, and diseased blood vessels. Statins reduce the amount of cholesterol and bad fats in your blood, which reduces the risk of these dangerous conditions. Statins work by blocking the production of cholesterol.

What are the common side effects of statins?

Most people who take statin drugs do not experience any side effects. However, less than 10% of people taking statins will experience side effects. Make sure to review the safety information for these medicines.

Common side effects (1–10%):

  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle damage (elevated creatine kinase levels)
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Rash
  • Stuffy nose and sore throat
  • Mouth and throat pain

Common side effects (1–10%):

  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle damage (elevated creatine kinase levels)
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Rash
  • Stuffy nose and sore throat
  • Mouth and throat pain

Do statins cause diabetes? Will statins increase my blood sugar?

Most people (> 99%) who take statins will have no problems with increased blood sugar or developing diabetes because of the statins. However, there is a small risk that statin medications can increase blood sugar levels and even cause diabetes to develop in someone who did not have it before taking the medication.

This small risk seems to be related to how much medicine you are taking. There is a higher risk in those who are on very high doses of statins, and there is a lower risk with those on lower doses. But even with high-dose statins, the risk of higher blood sugar or developing diabetes is still rather small — about 1 in 500 at the worst.

The big picture is that statins significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and bad blood vessel problems — as much as 20% to 30%. So the benefits of taking a statin really outweigh this small risk of an increased blood sugar level and possible diabetes. If you are concerned about your blood sugar or risk of diabetes, you need to talk to your doctor in person.


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