Statins are drugs that are administered to people having high blood cholesterol levels. This medicine is lifesaving in many cases as it prevents the risk of a heart stroke.
However, some statins are associated with undesirable effects and a question commonly asked about it is, do statins harm the liver? This article deals with the use of statins, its effects and whether or not there is any possible harm to the liver.
Do Statins Harm the Liver?
Although statins are considered to be highly effective in medical practice, they have been associated with certain harms to the body. Some of the commonly discussed undesirable effects of statins are muscle pains, digestive problems and mental fuzziness, and in extremely rare cases, liver damage. Liver inflammation due to statins is the main concern in particular, which has probably led to the questions, do statins harm the liver?
The main stream of this medicine includes atorvastatin (most commonly prescribed), fluvastatin. lovastatin, pitavastatin, pravastatin, rosuvastatin and simvastatin.
Effects of Statins on Liver
Statins are considered among the safest, are their effects have been studied to quite an extent. A physician prescribes a particular statin drug only after assessing the benefits as against the possible side effects. Yet before prescribing this drug physician may enquire about any other medical conditions, liver problems or any ongoing medications. They may also ask the patient to get the liver tested, mainly because, in some cases, statin use could cause an increase in the level of certain enzymes that signal liver inflammation. So, when you ask, do statins harm the liver? The answer is possibly, in some cases, depending on the health and other factors of the patient.
Two liver enzymes in particular, ALT (alanine aminotransferase) and AST (aspartate aminotransferase) may be mildly elevated, but the there is no reason for an alarm unless the rise is three times the upper limit of normal range. It is only in such a case that the use of statin is stopped. So, in short, while there is a slight chance of harming the liver, regular follow-up and monitoring can help.
Moreover, if statins harm the liver, in any way, it is not permanent in nature. Most effects wear off once the use of the drug is stopped and the reports return back to the normal range. At times it is particular type of statin which is not tolerate well or can show particular effects. In such cases, if the brand is changed the positive effects of statins remain the same and the yet the negative effects are managed well. This can be one way in which the possibility of statins harming the liver can be reduced. But again, physician advice and prescription is a must for any changes.
Research on Do Statins Harm The Liver?
There has been quite a research, study and analysis of patients to ascertain the effect of statin and to answer the question, do statins harm the liver. According to researches, there is a very rare case where the statins have led to liver damage, and there is absolutely no way that is can confirmed that a certain liver failure was solely due to the use of the drug. One of the major conclusions of such researches was that there is no concrete evidence of death due to liver failure caused by statin therapy.
But since the use of statins can contribute of rising enzyme levels, keeping an eye on the range of these enzymes namely ALT and AST is the best way to continue using statins for their benefits.
Sometimes, however, people may experience certain undesirable symptoms with statin use. If there are symptoms like muscle pain, unusual fatigue, loss of appetite, pain in upper abdomen, dark coloured urine, or yellowing skin, or any sign that points to the liver problems, medical advice should be sought.
To conclude, statins have been extremely effective and safe and have the credit of not only the reduction in cardiovascular risks but in helping in prevention of certain cancers also. The risk of possible harm to the liver with statin use can be managed with regular monitoring and medical evaluation. It is best to get the liver functions checked up before initiating statin use and continue during the course of treatment. Thus, the question of do statins harm the liver can be dealt effectively with proper medical attention.
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