Long-term side effects of statins, the most popular cholesterol medications, include muscle pain and damage, liver damage, digestive problems, rashes or flushing skin, neurological problems, and increased blood sugar, states Mayo Clinic. Muscle pain is the most common side effect of statins.
When taking statins, there can be a tired feeling, soreness or weakness in the muscles, reports Mayo Clinic. The severity ranges from minor discomfort to pain that interferes with daily activities. Severe muscle damage called rhabdomyolysis is a rare side effect of statins. Rhabdomyolysis can cause extreme muscle pain, damage to the liver, kidney failure and even death. Rhabdomyolysis is experienced by patients on high doses of statins and those taking statins combined with other medications.
Statin use may also cause the liver to produce excess enzymes, as Mayo Clinic explains. If the increase in enzyme production is moderate statin therapy can be continued. If signs of liver damage, such as loss of appetite, weakness, yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark urine, fatigue, or abdominal pain, occur, statin therapy should be discontinued.
Factors that increase the risk of experiencing side effects from statins include being female, over 65 years old and drinking alcohol, according to Mayo Clinic.