Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women across nearly every age and ethnic group. Heart disease is responsible for approximately one out of every four deaths in the United States, and it is often preventable. Conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol are the leading contributors to heart disease and are extremely common. High cholesterol, a condition which causes no obvious symptoms, contributes to an increased risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke, but many people are unaware that they have the condition. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 95 million Americans have cholesterol levels higher than 200 mg/dL or higher, while 29 million adults over the age of 20 have total cholesterol levels of 240 mg/dL or higher. This epidemic has a number of contributing factors, some of which are genetic, but the majority of which are the result of poor lifestyle choices that include unhealthy diets, sedentary lifestyles, and carrying around extra weight. Because of the potentially deadly consequences of having high cholesterol, many people are prescribed medication in addition to diet and lifestyle choices. Fluvastatin, a common prescription medication, can lower total cholesterol levels, but what side effects are associated with the medication?
Fluvastatin, a generic prescription medication sold under the brand name Lescol, belongs to a class of drugs called HMG CoA reductase inhibitors, which are often referred to as statin medications or “statins.” The medication was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1999. Statin medications are among the most popularly prescribed drugs in the United States, which reflects the difficulty that many people have in managing their high cholesterol.
Conditions Treated by Fluvastatin
Fluvastatin and other drugs like it, known as statins, are used for the treatment of high cholesterol levels in the blood. There are two types of cholesterol in the body: low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, which is considered “bad” cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein, of HDL, which is considered “good” cholesterol. LDL levels are higher than HDL levels in most people’s bodies, and an accumulation of LDL causes plaque to accumulate on the walls of the blood vessels. Plaque buildup causes the blood vessels to narrow, which slows the flow of blood from the heart to the brain, organs, and extremities, increasing blood pressure and contributing to a higher risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Good cholesterol, or HDL, helps to counteract the effects of LDL; it is responsible for absorbing LDL in the blood and delivering it to the liver, where it is flushed out of the body. Patients benefit from having low levels of LDL and high levels of HDL, as this means that patients are less likely to develop plaque buildup in the blood vessels and are at a lower risk of experiencing serious cardiovascular events. Statin medications help lower your total cholesterol level, which is calculated by adding together the LDL and HDL levels and combining them with 20 percent of your triglyceride level. Patients who have high cholesterol currently, have a family history of high cholesterol, or are at risk of developing high cholesterol should have their cholesterol levels tested regularly. Doctors use the total cholesterol level and specific levels of HDL, LDL, and triglycerides in order to determine the best course of treatment for each patient based on their individual test results.
How Fluvastatin Lowers Cholesterol Levels
Fluvastatin works in conjunction with lifestyle changes, such as a healthier diet, to lower the amount of LDL cholesterol in the blood. Statins like fluvastatin reduce the production of cholesterol by the liver, which makes plaque less likely to accumulate on the walls of the blood vessels. This prevents the blood vessels from narrowing and allows blood to flow freely to the brain, heart, extremities, and organs. Fluvastatin also increases the amount of HDL cholesterol in the body and lowers triglyceride levels. As a result, patients who take fluvastatin and make other lifestyle changes see reductions in their total cholesterol levels and have a lower overall risk of experiencing heart attack and stroke.
Fluvastatin Side Effects
Both common and uncommon side effects are associated with fluvastatin. Common side effects associated with fluvastatin that usually do not need medical attention include:
- Acidic or sour stomach
- Stomach pain, upset, or discomfort
Less common side effects of fluvastatin that usually do not need medical attention include:
- Bloated or full feeling
- Pain or tenderness around the eyes or cheekbones
- Difficulty sleeping
- Excess air or gas in the stomach or intestines
- Passing gas
The side effects listed above are usually mild and generally do not continue for more than a few days or weeks. However, if these common side effects persist or you have an allergic reaction, talk to your doctor about your use of fluvastatin or consider taking a statin support supplement.
Other side effects of fluvastatin are less common but do require medical attention, as they can be serious. Make sure to speak to your doctor right away if you experience any of the following side effects while taking fluvastatin:
- Joint pain
- Muscle aches and pains
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Trouble sleeping
- General feeling of discomfort or illness
- Loss of appetite
- Unusual tiredness or weakness
- Bladder pain
- Cough producing mucus
- Difficult, burning, or painful urination
- Difficulty with moving
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Muscle cramps, spasms, or stiffness
- Pain, swelling, or redness in the joints
- Skin rash
- Bloody or cloudy urine
- Dark-colored urine
- Difficulty with breathing
- Difficulty with swallowing
- Fast heartbeat
- Lower back or side pain
- Muscular pain, tenderness, wasting, or weakness
- Puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
- Tightness in the chest
Compared to other statin medications, fluvastatin is less likely to cause muscle pain than other, stronger statin medications, so it may be a viable alternative for patients who have experienced muscle pain while taking other statin medications.
How to Reduce Fluvastatin Side Effects
People with high cholesterol levels may need medications like fluvastatin in order to keep their cholesterol levels in check, but side effects associated with fluvastatin and other statin medications lead to a high rate of noncompliance. Many people find the side effects of these drugs so unpleasant that they resist taking their medications in order to avoid the side effects. Researchers believe that some of the side effects caused by statin medications like fluvastatin are the result of the medications’ tendency to deplete coenzyme Q-10, or CoQ10, in the body. The human body naturally produces CoQ10, an important antioxidant, as a byproduct of the cellular respiration process; cellular respiration is the process by which cells create the energy that the body needs in order to function. CoQ10 prevents free radicals, another byproduct of cellular respiration, from causing damage to cells and DNA in the body. Fluvastatin and other statin medications are associated with lower levels of CoQ10 in the body, causing an increase in side effects. Therefore, boosting levels of CoQ10 in the body by using specially formulated dietary supplements may help to reduce side effects caused by fluvastatin and other statin medications. These supplements, such as Statin Support by Even, provide other nutritional support as well.
In addition to receiving bioavailable CoQ10, people taking statin medications often are deficient in vitamins B1, B2, and B3, vitamin K2, sulforaphane, selenium, vitamin D3, and resveratrol, which can contribute to a higher incidence of side effects. Vitamins B1, B2, and B3 help support mitochondrial health and minimize side effects by reducing the levels of lactic acid that can be the cause of some muscle symptoms. Vitamin K2 helps to minimize arterial calcification that is caused by cholesterol and statin medications, while selenium is a mineral that contributes to redox balance. Antioxidants like resveratrol support the health of the mitochondria, helping to reduce muscle pain, while sulforaphane reduces a patient’s risk of experiencing insulin resistance. Statin Support by Even is specially designed to provide bioavailable CoQ10, vitamins B1, B2, and B3, vitamin K2, and chelated minerals and mitochondrial antioxidants in order to provide support for the body while taking fluvastatin.