Arrive Alive

Cholesterol Medication And Road Safety

Cholesterol Medication and Road Safety

Drivers are often unaware of the impact that medication might have on their ability to drive.

It is important that we create more awareness on the side effects of medication and provide drivers with the necessary advice to protect them and other road users.

Pharmaconnect recently published an article on the possible side effects of cholesterol medication and the Arrive Alive website would like to share this information in the interest of driver fitness.

 

Muscle pain and weakness caused by cholesterol medication

The symptoms

If you experience nonspecific muscle pain, joint pain and weakness and you are taking statin or fibrates as cholesterol medication, it may not only affect your driving, but it is quite dangerous to your health.  Often overlooked, the side-effects of statin drugs, namely myositis (muscle inflammation) and myopathy (a neuromuscular disease in which the muscle fibres do not function for any one of many reasons, resulting in muscular weakness), might be causing nonspecific muscle pain, tenderness and weakness.  Manufacturers of this medication advise patients in their patient information leaflets (package inserts), that a doctor should be consulted immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

The mechanism

Statins lower cholesterol by inhibiting the liver enzyme HMG CoA reductase.  Without this enzyme, the liver cannot make its own cholesterol, so the liver removes cholesterol from the blood for use in producing hormones and other cell functions.   

Statin drugs are known to cause muscle pains and inflammation around the muscle cells (myositis).  If a patient complains about muscle or joint pain and weakness, the pharmacist has an important role to play since they are either aware of the medication the patient is taking or in the position to determine the patient’s medical history.

According to the literature, muscle aching caused by statins can generally reverse itself within weeks of discontinuing the medication.  In some cases, a patient might even experience immediate relief when discontinuing the medication.  Muscle pains and mild muscle inflammation accompanied by minor weakness as well as mildly elevated muscle enzyme (CPK) also generally reverses but may take several months to resolve.  Statins can also cause severe muscle inflammation and damage, causing painful and severely weakened muscles with markedly elevated muscle enzyme (CPK).  When muscles are severely damaged, the muscle cells release proteins into the blood that can collect in the kidneys and cause damage which may lead to kidney failure.  It is evident that the outcome is better when the condition is detected early.

Balance, but be safe

It is important to also be aware of claims that are made for the safe use of statins.  Reassurance and advice are offered to patients on how to use statins safely, to get the biggest benefit with the lowest risk of side effects.  Certain manufacturers have introduced a lower strength of their product for people who don’t need to be overly aggressive about lowering their LDL. 

The potential for serious side effects versus the gain you can get from the medication has been weighed and reported in the media:  Statins cut the risk of heart attack, angina, stroke and death from cardiovascular disease by 30%.  Statins cause muscle pain in under 5% of people who take them.  According to the authors who make these claims, the pains often stop by themselves even with continued statin use.  The chance of rhabdomyolysis, a potentially deadly breakdown of muscle tissue, is less than one per million statin prescriptions.

Also view:

Medicine/ Medication and Road Safety 

Road Safety and Health

Loading...

Search Road Safety Articles

Latest Pages

Safe Driving on Gravel Roads

Safe Driving on Gravel Roads

Introduction Many licensed drivers have never driven on gravel roads or are inexperienced and unprepared for the unique challenges when doing so. This inexperience and lack of safety awareness result in too many fatal crashes and injuries on gravel roads in our rural areas. We must equip ourselves

Read More

Safe Driving on Roads with Potholes and Avoiding Pothole Damage

Safe Driving on Roads with Potholes and Avoiding Pothole Damage

Introduction We have all been confronted by poor road conditions and the threat of the dreaded pothole. It is especially on our rural roads and after the rainy seasons that the road surface comes under pressure and the cracks and holes in the road surface start to appear. In some areas, the road

Read More

Drunk Driving and Road Safety

Drunk Driving and Road Safety

Drunk Driving and Road Safety Drunk Driving is one of the biggest threats to Road Safety in South Africa. Research indicates that 50% of people who die on the roads have a blood alcohol concentration above 0.05 gram per 100 millilitres. Brief Summary: Legislation: The National Road Traffic

Read More

Compliance in the Road Freight Transport Industry in South Africa

Compliance in the Road Freight Transport Industry in South Africa

The South African freight transportation landscape fundamentally differs from that of the rest of the globe. In most other countries the fleet sizes comprise mostly of the owner of the transport business, who is also an “owner-driver” on one of his vehicles and maybe another couple of vehicles,

Read More

Treatment of and Response to Cuts and Bruises

Treatment of and Response to Cuts and Bruises

The skin is the largest organ of the human body, about 2m square in surface area and has several functions. It is also a barrier which provides protection from infection and heat loss. We need to remember that most cuts are minor and require little attention. The size of cuts, the number of cuts (also

Read More

Using Tourniquets to Stop Severe Bleeding

Using Tourniquets to Stop Severe Bleeding

With more and more South Africans are being exposed to trauma on a daily basis, as bystanders or witnesses, we are often the first people on the scene, especially Motor Vehicle Collisions (MVC). The quick initial point of wound care and treatment of potentially life-threatening injuries by bystanders

Read More

Load More Pages

Partners

View All