Statins Cholesterol Drugs
Statins, technically called HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, are a class of drugs used to lower overall blood cholesterol levels by reducing the amounts of cholesterol naturally produced by the human liver. Statin drugs’ mechanism of action is that they inhibit cholesterol enzyme production in the liver. High cholesterol concentrations in the blood have been positively linked to heart disease and high blood pressure. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, for men as well as women.
Cholesterol is a naturally occurring bodily substance that is essential for cell function. The human body produces cholesterol, and it also utilizes it through cholesterol ingested in the diet. When diet and natural production exceed normal bodily needs, the substance builds up as plaque in the arteries and veins, causing atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries, and increased blood pressure, also known as hypertension. When cholesterol builds up in the blood vessels that specifically serve the heart, people experience an increased chance of myocardial infarction (MI), a heart attack. In the brain, the obstruction can cause a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), also known as a stroke. When cholesterol plaques break loose from the vascular walls they lodge in narrowed passages, made narrow by other cholesterol build up elsewhere in the circulatory system, particularly in the heart, head, or legs.
Popular statins on the market include Altoprev, Crestor, Lescol, Lipitor, Livalo, Mevacor, Pracachol, Zocor, Advicor, Simcor, and Vytorin. These are widely prescribed drugs used to control cholesterol levels in people who are diagnosed with hyperlipidemia (high blood cholesterol) and hypertension.
Liver complications have been reported with prolonged statin use. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has found demonstrable association between statin use and liver injury to be rare, the agency does recognize that cause and effect does exist. The FDA advises that health care professionals regular test patients who are using statin drugs for liver enzyme levels to detect detrimental changes in liver function.
Statin use has also been linked to memory loss, another condition that the FDA has investigated by reviewing clinical trials and statistical studies. People who feel they are suffering from cognitive changes due to statin use are advised to consult with their healthcare provider to determine if statin use is the cause, and modify their therapy appropriately.
Statin drugs have also been linked to increased blood glucose levels associated with diabetes. A review of the available data does show an increase in diabetic symptoms in statin users. Again, this should be reviewed with a competent medical practitioner to determine if the benefits of statin therapy outweigh the potential consequences in diabetic patients.
Generalized myopathy, or muscle weakness, has also been observed to increase with statin use when other prescribed drugs are part of a patient’s treatment regimen. Lovastatin, in particular, has been singled out by the FDA to issue revised guidelines as to its use in order clarify this drug’s link to myopathy, including which other drugs may lead to increased symptoms of myopathy.
No drug is totally safe, but every drug should be as close to safe as possible. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are held liable to provide reasonably safe products to the public, and to provide accurate guidance to physicians and other healthcare providers who make their products available to patients. There are drugs on the market that have never been found to have adverse side effects. Every drug should be the same.
A medical liability lawyer’s role is to ensure that the manufacturing, marketing, and distribution system works to provide maximum benefits for the patients a drug is intended to cure, while not causing them harm. In the case of statins, a proven link has been established through thorough scientific peer review that there are incidences of adverse complications. While these complications may be rare, they are established, and licensed healthcare providers, such as physicians, nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants, and pharmacists, should be substantially aware of them. Statins are a common therapy in the treatment of high cholesterol, and the drugs’ benefits and risks are well-publicized in professional journals and through government bulletins.
Professional legal advice is available to everyone who feels they have suffered personal injury due to prescribed statin use. Anyone who feels they have suffered from adverse effects due to statin drugs is advised to consult with professional legal counsel to determine if reasonable and just compensation is available and deserved. A professional attorney will present his or her client’s case according to established legal precedent and statutes on their client’s behalf and satisfaction.