Statins and pain

I have been taking statins for nearly 3 months now.  My cholesterol was really high  due to it being the familial sort.  I had no idea it was in the family - even the younger members who are very healthy and do marathons !  Its been okay but every now and then I get a very unpleasant pain in my stomach and above.  Its like trapped wind and stops me in my tracks.  It comes on at night and takes a while to calm down.  I already take Ranitidine as I am prone to indigestion.   Last night was awful , I got up and had some milk , walked around a bit and eventually it calmed down.  Anyone else get this . I keep a note of when it happens and I had the same situation about a month ago ! I eat alot more carefully now .  I take Atorvastatin .   Thanks !

14 Replies

  • You need to fully discuss this with your GP to get a better understanding. different people react very differently to medication.

    You may need to keep a food intake diary and any drinks that can react to give to stomach pain and also to see if the problem start after taking statin?

  • HI,

     I have taken Esomaprazole for about 15-20 years for the sort of pain you refer to, I have reflux and a hiatus Hernia. Now I have just been diagnosed within the last 6 month with osteoporosis, it's a really bad back pain and leg pain, and difficult to even stand some mornings.

    I have recently discovered through checking on the internet that the esomaprazole causes calcium deficiency (my GP was quite sympathetic to my refusal to take them any more) I think she understood that there were these side effects.

    So please be careful what you take for the indigestion you describe. I will not take esomaprazole or omaprazole,and  similar drugs now, because I can't take further risks with my bones. I have to have high doses of calcium and alendronic acid, hopefully to stop any further decreasing bone density. Unfortunately the alendronic acid causes more problems with the acid reflux and I may have to have injections instead, I have been referred to the bone clinic now.

     I sympathise with you over your problems with the indigestion, ( but I just felt the need to warn you about the problems of taking esomaprasole if you were to be prescribed this ) , as the Doctors do not  always tell you there could be this problem of calcium deficiiency, and I so wish I had known about it when I first started this medication.

    best regards.

  • Singleblue check out this link on familial hypercholesterolaemia  and this one which discusses the implication of LDL particle size being of greater importance than the overall levels of LDL.  And if your doctor tells you that high levels of cholesterol are dangerous then check out 'the cholesterol myth'.

    You might try ginger or mint tea for your belly ache.  (I always have a bottle of traditional ginger beer - the strong stuff - at the side of my bed for such emergencies, though since starting on kefir I have hardly had recourse to it.)

  • Wow. Malcolm Kendrick has written ONE item about FH in at least the last four years, mainly to help him get on his hobby-horse about non-publication of research again (which is a fair concern, but he doesn't tell us the reasons given for non-publication - just that he didn't understand them) rather than to tell us anything new about FH. It seems that his "later" article about homozygous FH still hasn't appeared after three years?

    I feel that Malcolm Kendrick doesn't care about FH sufferers and I am heartily sick of the repeated uncritical idolising of him in this forum, which is why I visit less often than I used to.

  • DakCB-UK  the point isn't DMK's interest or otherwise in Familial Hypercholesterolaemia.  It is the fact that concern over the condition promulgated down the years is misdirection.  Carriers are made to fear their natural state and that is WRONG.

    However, just to assuage your irritation, if you have another similar link explaining the same error I will more than happily refer to that in any future discussion.

  • Do you mean that you think the condition doesn't exist, or that it's not harmful and the early heart-attack deaths among my ancestors and their brothers are just that we're the unluckiest family around or some other heriditary factor?

    And is that being declared "the fact" based on one unpublished study mainly because it's been mentioned in a blog post by the beloved Kendrick?

    Most medics who have treated me have seemed quite clear that the lipid HYPOTHESIS is just that - a hypothesis, not a proven link - and that there's a lot about FH we don't understand yet. The few who weren't... well, they didn't treat me for long! I find pro-statin zealotry at least as worrying as the anti-statin.

  • No Familial Hypercholesterolaemia is something that you well know exists but yes its association with heart disease and treatment by statins has prevented comprehensive investigation into other control methods.

    studies including only people with FH have shown that both the prevalence and future cardiovascular disease are independent o[f] their blood cholesterol level; in one of the studies mean cholesterol was even lowest in those who had coronary heart disease (CHD).

    the small effect obtained with the statins is due to their pleiotropic effects. Most likely, it is their effect on the coagulation system

    according to the The Simon Broome FH Register Group, the mean life expectancy in FH is as long as for other people

    Also, before 1900 their life expectancy was longer than for the general population, probably because high cholesterol protects against infectious diseases

    a more appropriate management of FH might be to evaluate the coagulation system and to find appropriate means to correct possible abnormalities. People with FH without such abnormalities should also be told that their high cholesterol is an advantage.

    Preliminary research indicates that the FH phenotype is influenced by other genetic and environmental factors

    Taken together, these family studies show that selecting patients based on only clinical manifestations may overestimate mortality risk and that strong environmental factors may influence the increased mortality in patients with FH.

    In 1986, Williams et al. screened 77 heterozygous FH members of four Utah pedigrees. They found that all 26 males born in the last two generations surveyed (after 1900) had coronary disease. In contrast, only one of five males born in the 19th century had coronary heart disease before the age of 60 years, providing additional evidence that environmental factors influence the association between clinical FH and coronary heart disease.

    [Harlan et al] suggested that “the precocious onset of cardiovascular disease and the bad prognosis of familial hypercholesterolemia have been overemphasized because many of the early studies were of the relatives of patients who had sought medical attention."

    This large variation of risk suggests that previous studies, with families based on selected patients, may have overestimated mortality. Moreover, such large variation in mortality in two directions (over time and within generations) in a pedigree indicates that the disorder has strong interactions with environmental factors.

    Lifestyle factors such as high fat diet, cigarette smoking, and [lack of] physical activity and factors that influence lipid metabolism have been associated with a higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease in patients with familial hypercholesterolaemia.

    Familial hypercholesterolemia, usually responds poorly to standard low-lipid diets

    CVDs are listed as the cause of death in ≈65% of persons with diabetes, [rising to 68% of those aged 65 or over]

    Untreated men [with familial hypercholesterolaemia] have a 50% risk of a non-fatal or fatal coronary event by age 50 years; untreated women have a 30% risk by age 60 years. [risk drops in later years]

  • Go and see a cardiologist immediately; these symptoms are similar to a cardio infarct - a heart attack; I know as I've had two. If you don't get an immediate appointment and you start to suffer pain in your upper left arm spreading to the left side of your chest go with somebody to the local accident and emergeny at a hospital. Do not drive there, be driven or if you find walking difficult call for an ambulance.

    Now make the appointment -NOW!

  • Go to your doctor. Get it looked at.

  • First, please go & visit a doctor.  Urgently.  Your GP in first instance or A&E.  Once you have this problem sorted, get a referal to a specialist at a lipid clinic, where they are specialists in treating people with Familial Hyperlipidaemia.

    People with FH (even young people) are far more likely to get heart problems. I first got angina when I was in my 20's and would have had a heart attach before 30 were it not for statins.

    Sadly FH has nothing to do with how fit you are.  Well, that said, fitness will affect the cholesterol levels a bit, but nowhere near as much as in a person without the dodgy gene.  The elevated levels are thanks to your body not being able to regulate the cholesterol it makes - so yes, even the fittest person with FH will have very high levels of cholesterol.

    Please don't blame every ache & pain on statins - very few people actually get these nasty side effects from statins.  In the double-blind trials, around the same number of people taking the placebo sugar-tablet got the same side effects! 

  • "very few people actually get these nasty side effects from statins". This is not true at all. Please check the sorts and numbers on sideeffects as for example collected during many years by the FDA! You might be very surprised, among others how many deaths there are, how many heartattacks, miocardinfarctions, hartfailure, CVA's, rhabdomyolysis not to speak of the general side effects like all kinds of muscle damage, tendon damage, neuropathy/nerve damage, organ damage and especially cognitive damage... there are. And about 2/3 or more of those mentioning problems at the FDA are doctors and pharmacists!

  • Singleblue, I'm sorry you are in pain. Myself I unfortunately was so far on extreme pain for a long time and with no help (nothing seems to aid statin pain really, I had it especially in my colon) that I already started on the euthanasia procedure - I was 43 years of age. So you can imagine that and why I never would take any statin anymore. There is diverse serious damage and especially non-reversable damage done to me. Well, if you suffer from the serious familial sort you probably need to take a statin. However, be aware of the fact that Atorvastatin is the strongest of the old range. Atorvastatin and Simvastatin as far as I know are those producing most side effects. I myself in your case would try to get Pravastatin. It is much less strong, yes, but it is on hydrophilic and not lipophilic and therefor among others does produce less damage, especially to the brains b/c of not crossing the blood brain barrier as lipophilic statins do. I suffered among others from strong cognitive deterioration. You need to know for comparing dosages of diverse statins that Atorvastatin is double as strong as the same amount of simvastatin. Pravastatin is half as strong as simvastatin for the same dosage of simvastatin. So, 20mg of Atorvastatin compares to 40mg of Simvastatin, compares to 80mg of Pravastatin. 40mg of Simvastatin is a high dosage and it was what damaged me strongly. I mention the comparison of dosage so you can check on what they prescribe. Unfortunately many times it showed earlier that doctors prescribing stastins had no idea how different statins compared to one another. I did suffer also from the symptoms you describe here. The most important to do is to read all info on all of the meds you take very well and to reread it after some time again and again, giving yourself a chance to get alert on eventual adverse effects of the one or other medicine - or the combination of them! There are diverse bloodpressure lowering meds like Amlodipine which increase the amount of statin in your body strongly up to doubling the amount. Also that often is not taken into account unfortunately. The pharmacy checks, yes, but for example not on increase of the one meds by another eventually. Be alert when the same adverse effect is mentioned on two meds you take... then the chance you will suffer from it is bigger of course. For example muscle soareness, stiffness, weakness, but also others. I wish you wisdom and good luck. Try to read a lot about it and see whether you might take something else. If you might be on overweight, start on that, exercise more and eat very healthy - while I know it does not always help, unfortunately. Look for a doctor really knowledgeable about statins, and especially also about side effects of them.

  • Thank you for your replies, very helpful.

  • Good, now go and see your doctor.

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