The most common side effect of statins is muscle or joint pain. In studies, about 7 out of 100 people taking statins reported these symptoms. Some studies found the number of people with these symptoms may even be higher. These same symptoms are often reported by people taking a placebo. A placebo is a sugar pill with no medicine in it. This makes it hard to know if statins are actually the cause of the symptoms. Regardless, some people find the muscle symptoms so bothersome that they stop taking statins. In some people the muscle pain gets better if the statin dose is lowered or a different statin is used instead.
Although uncommon, some people taking statins develop diabetes. This is more likely for people who are very overweight and have high blood sugar levels before they start taking statins. These people might have gotten diabetes at some point without statins. Taking statins may just bring it on sooner.
Different statins have different side effects. Common side effects that were reported in more than 2% of people taking statins are listed below. These symptoms happen almost as often in people taking a sugar pill.
Other side effects have been reported less often. Some people report memory or thinking problems. Rare, but serious effects, can sometimes occur including liver or muscle damage.
Many statin side effects go away on their own. Sometimes your doctor may need to lower your dose or change you to a different statin. If you are having certain side effects, your doctor may also want to do some blood tests. These tests may check on the effects of statins on your muscles, liver, and blood sugar.
For most people, the benefits of statins far outweigh the risks. Always talk to your doctor if you have concerns about statin side effects.