Bad reaction to Atorvastatin - British Heart Fou...

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Bad reaction to Atorvastatin

Chessman profile image

I had triple heart bypass last June. I was put on the usual medication including 80mg atorvastatin. After about 3 months it was discovered that my liver counts were through the roof. I was taken off statins. Very worrying time. After more than 2 months the counts had fallen back to within the normal ranges. Obviously I have huge issues with being prescribed 80mg and then not monitored regularly. Should 80mg be prescribed initially ? I do not think there is any need at all. I am not even that convinced about statins. A lot of conflicting results keep coming out about the benefits, especially dubious for over 70 s. Just wanted anybody who is undergoing a similar experience that things will probably end up ok for you.

29 Replies

Hi Chessman. 80Mg is the usual prescription for 2 years according to NICE regulations. They need to monitor liver function and clearly that was problematic for you. I had a heart attack followed by a stent and the positive evidence supporting the use of statins for me is overwhelming. Luckily I haven’t had side effects and my cholesterol has reduced significantly. After two years I dropped to 40Mg and it has now reached a plateau. Glad things are looking better for you. Hope you have a great 2020.

I’ve had the same as NorthantsSteve. I’m 70 and had no problem. There is a lot of rubbish on the internet. The overwhelming body of evidence about statins is positive.

My wife's cholesterol is around 7.0 and our GP said for those without heart problems the advice is now to inform patients of their pros and cons and let them make their own decision.

I asked if he still took them as he was taking them in 2011 when I was prescribed them prior to my aortic valve replacement. He said that he had now stopped taking them. I was running out of time so did not ask him for details. He had been taking them originally as his family has a history of heart disease.

I stopped and started them prior to my valve replacement due to joint and muscle pain and did not go back to them

MichaelJH profile image
MichaelJHHeart Star

Hello and welcome to the forum! I had a quadruple bypass 18 months ago and am on 40mg Atorvastatin. I have been on a statin for nearly a decade now since a diagnosis of PAD (peripheral arterial disease). Simvastatin caused some aches but a change after a few months to Atorvastatin overcame this. There are a number of statins and various doses available that there is usually something to suit everyone. As Clerkenweller has said there is a lot of rubbish out there. A trial reported in the BMJ had more people reporting side effects on a placebo than a statin - such is the power of social media!

Hubby has been on 80mg of atorvastatin for 12 years now with no side effects - his cholesterol is difficult to get down to acceptable levels.

Some people do have side effects from statins. For those who don't, they should not dismiss the subject as rubbish. I had aches and serious fatigue caused by Atorvastatin and Simvastatin, so I was given Rosuvastatin with the assurance that it was much 'kinder' and would be fine.

Result? Visual disturbance like migraine aura, initially for a few minutes at a time once a day, gradually increasing to hours at a time.

Normal life was impossible.

I had never heard of this as a potential side effect, so difficult to ascribe it to anything other than the drug. It disappeared within two days of stopping the tablets.

Keep an open mind and keep going back to your doctor if you are not happy.

MichaelJH profile image
MichaelJHHeart Star in reply to

Sorry but if you look those of us referring to rubbish are referring to various articles and claims about statins on the Internet and NOT side effects. With any drug some people will have side effects which mean a lower dose or a change of medication. Many people cannot tolerate penicillin but it has not been affected by a media frenzy!

in reply to MichaelJH

My apologies

MichaelJH profile image
MichaelJHHeart Star in reply to

No worries!

I also had awful liver results. But since, I’ve been on Resuvastatin and all has been good.

Keep getting tested and get a new Statin.

It is worth it

Take care.

I got a note saying it looked like I had experience with this statin that's giving you problems but I've never taken a statin in my life and plan to keep it that way. Instead, I use 3 pills of Slo-Niacin a day to control my cholesterol and it does so quite nicely and painlessly.

The same thing happened to me, when my liver recovered I was put on another statin 10 ml after a month same thing happened to my liver, I don't have a station now.

Hi Chessman

I’m sorry I can’t be much help. I’ve had Mitral Valve Repair & a Triple Bypass. I had 2 arteries blocked to 94% and 2 to 74%. I couldn’t understand this as my cholesterol was 3.7 before diagnosis. They’ve since put me on 10 mg Atorvastatin and my cholesterol is now 2.1. I was always under the impression that anything under 5 was ok. Hope you have an healthy 2020. All the best. David

MichaelJH profile image
MichaelJHHeart Star in reply to Davewm

It is a mystery at times. Before my bypass I was running at 3.2 on 10 mg Atorvastatin; now 3.0 on 40mg. Without them it was 4.2 - I had been prescribed them for PAD (peripheral arterial disease). Yet my LAD was 85% blocked and three other coronary arteries over 70%. The guidelines for those with heart issues in 4.0 or below.

Ader42 profile image
Ader42 in reply to MichaelJH

Plenty of people with low cholesterol have heart attacks and CAD.

Many people with high cholesterol have no heart attacks and no CAD.

Most people don’t understand that elevated cholesterol is only a low level risk factor (compared to smoking for example) and not a problem in and of itself. Before I had a heart attack I was rated as very low risk even though my cholesterol was high.

Arterial damage can be caused by smoking, excessive inflammation etc. And plaque is the result of the body trying to heal. One component of plaque is cholesterol so cholesterol gets all the blame.

I read a professor of cardiology stating that 25% of heart attacks were caused by blood clots that resulted from rupture of plaque that was too thin to even be seen on a CT scan or angiogram.

So as Michael says, there’s a lot of mystery still.

I have first-hand knowledge of family members that reacted badly to statins, I’m on 80mg Astorvastatin but feel okay generally. Some aches and pains but not 100% sure which med is responsible.

MichaelJH profile image
MichaelJHHeart Star in reply to Ader42

I felt at risk as my father, his brother and their father has all died prematurely from heart attacks but was not taken seriously because my "numbers" were good! Smoking was also cited as a cause when I only smoked for two years and not since 1975. My cardiologist agreed that traffic fumes had probably had more effect!

Fortepiano profile image
Fortepiano in reply to Ader42

Clearly you weren't low risk!

Ader42 profile image
Ader42 in reply to Fortepiano

Yes but for me any risk was not the cholesterol but genetically elevated LP(a) causing a type of LDL that the liver can't take back and recycle; and statin taking and lifestyle changes have no effect on LP(a) levels.

A great many people have heart attacks not due to cholesterol but due to unfortunate genes. Approx 20% of people have high LP(a) and there there are also other genetic factors too; such as in people with FH.

If the NHS included routine genetic screening, or even CT scans, I would have been caught and ranked as high risk, but not because of high cholesterol which is a symptom not a cause.

Sadly treating symptoms seems to be the NHS forte rather than prevention or addressing actual causes in many cases.

I have had to fight to get genetic tests on the NHS (and had some private), none of it offered freely; to find out the root cause : LP(a).

Fortepiano profile image
Fortepiano in reply to Ader42

High LP (a) is certainly a risk factor, as is high cholesterol. The treatment for high LP(a) is statins, and it has been shown in trials that in people with high LP(a), achieving low cholesterol with statins lowers risk.

Lowering cholesterol in people with FH also lowers risk.

I do agree there is a place for a single LP(a) test in preventative medicine, but but I think the mistake was your GP not treating your very high cholesterol.

Where I disagree is with your insistence that high cholesterol is not itself a risk factor which needs to be treated. This is dangerously misleading to posters and goes against medical advice.

Ader42 profile image
Ader42 in reply to Fortepiano

I hear what you’re saying but it’s the type of cholesterol that matters. Large buoyant LDL is thought to be good and the type of LDL that is smaller ( for any of several reasons) is bad.

I know people like simple and easy but often science is neither.

I at least agree that high levels of small dense LDL is a significant risk factor. I would also agree that it would often be better to err on the side of caution too so at least the current guidelines are on the better side of the two.

If people found out their specific LDL sub-fractions and particle count then a much more accurate assessment of risk could be made.

I've been on 80mg Atorvastatin since my double bypass six months ago. As soon as I was discharged back to my GP's care, he said that he'd want to do an evaluation after six months (get some tests done, check my cholesterol levels, try reducing the dosage and see if we could get the same effect on a lower dose), so that should start in the New Year. Needed to give it to then to let things settle down, as I was new to the drugs.

I don't seem to have serious side-effects, although I've an ache in one shoulder that I'll discuss with him - not bad enough to raise before then, and could just be age anyway!

Just realised after 3 Years taking 20 mg ... They have been responsible for my loss and change of sense of smell...

Life has been miserable, like having s peg on your nose.... even affected the libedo, which I had put down to age but it must have been pheromones changes with smell...

Best Xmas present not collecting my last repeat prescription... I won't be taking them again !!!!

Good grief! I've just totally lost my sense of smell, and largely taste as well! Am on atorvastatin 80 mg as from Oct 2019. My GP thinks its OTT to have a liver function test before a year is out, ditto cholesterol levels. Am nonplussed!

Hi Chessman, I had a triple bypass in March 2018, the cardiac nurses wanted to increase by statin from 20mg to 80mg but I was a bit against this. They then checked my cholesterol after I had been on statin's for 6 months and was three months post op and it was a reasonable 3.7 so they continued on 20mg. I think its standard to be on 80mg but its clear for me that this was too much. Best of luck

Just been told that I had statin induced Hepatitis after taking Artorvastatin 80mg for 7 weeks (Post H/A and three stents). Being monitored now to get my numbers down. No statins in the meantime, doctor hoping to put me on a lower doseage alternative once my liver repairs. Felt very very ichy, nauseus and very fatigued. Day one of recovery so too soon to say but hoping to start returning to fitness soon.

Black1938 profile image
Black1938 in reply to Bluenile

Taking statins for over a year 80mg , I also am feeling very itchy , just bought some Antihistamines tablets to see if that helps . Also feeling slightly wobbly.

Worth getting your blood checked.

Just had a call from my GP at 7.45 this morning to tell me to come of the atorvastatin that I have been taking for a month after an emergency stent. Requested bloods myself yesterday as I’ve been feeling so ill. Stomach enlarged and liver ALT 400 when it should have been 40. Feel rough, I just hope I start to feel better soon. I was also put on 80mg . Been to Drs 5 times in the last two weeks but nobody suggested a blood test. How long was it before you started to feel better?

Thank you


I started to feel better very quickly after I stopped the Atorvastatin. Two days.

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