Everything Seniors Need to Know About Statins


Statins are an extremely common medication amongst older adults, but there are many well-known side effects. Statins are primarily prescribed to manage high cholesterol. There is a lot of “junk science” surrounding statins, but there is also a lot of validity to potentially severe side effects. Seniors who take statins may be concerned about the risks. 

What Are Statins?

High cholesterol is a threat to your health. High LDL cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol, can cause other health issues over time[1]. The condition is linked to higher rates of heart disease and, sometimes, an earlier death. LDL cholesterol can clog arteries, which can cause strokes and heart attacks. If you have high cholesterol, your doctor might recommend daily exercise with an On-the-Go Wrist Watch Medical Alert + GPS + Pedometer, or implementing a cholesterol-friendly diet. 

Statins provide another way to combat high cholesterol. Doctors prescribe statins to lower cholesterol, but they can also lower the risk of cardiac disease and other cardiac emergencies, like a heart attack. However, doctors are sometimes hesitant to prescribe statin therapy to many people who might benefit from it. This population includes people with high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, and stroke and peripheral artery disease. The medical community’s uncertainty about statins comes from the medications’ potential side effects. Let’s take a look at some of the concerns surrounding statin usage and what you need to know when making health maintenance decisions with your doctor. 

Common Statin Myths, Debunked

Popular statins include rosuvastatin (Crestor), atorvastatin (Lipitor), simvastatin (Zocor), and pravastatin (Pravachol). Below, you’ll read about different statins myths and how concerned you really need to be.

MYTH: Statins can cause diabetes.

TRUTH: Statins do have an effect on diabetes risk, but only if the person taking the medication is already at risk for developing diabetes, or if they have pre-diabetes. A study out of the British Medical Journal posits that people with pre-diabetes who take statins increase their risk of diabetes by about 30 percent.

People who do not have pre-diabetes nor are at risk for developing diabetes will not get diabetes just by using statins. If someone gets diabetes while using statins, then it was more than likely that person would have developed diabetes based on other factors. Diabetes prevention focuses more on lifestyle changes than statin usage. 

MYTH: Statins produce many side effects, including digestive problems, muscle pain, and liver damage. 

TRUTH: Doctors might prescribe statins to their patients with the orders of reporting back if muscle pain develops. According to the Mayo Clinic, approximately 5% of statin users will experience muscle pain[2]. However, by alerting patients to the potential for muscle pain, doctors create a sort of nocebo effect. The nocebo effect is the opposite of the placebo effect: if you believe a certain treatment will have a negative outcome, then the negative outcome will happen. 

The New England Journal of Medicine published a study in 2020 that reinforces this theory. Researchers studied people who took statins, a placebo, or no treatment at all. These people had decided against using statins for what they believed to be serious side effects. However, the placebo caused the same “side effects” for about 90% of the people in the study. If someone experiences muscle pain while using statins, their doctor might halt their medication, advise them to take the medication every other day, or prescribe a lower dosage.

Liver damage is another potential side effect of statins. However, liver issues largely occur in people who have pre-existing fatty liver disease, which is a metabolic condition that generates fat buildup in the liver. People will not usually develop liver inflammation as a result of taking statins. 

Why You Should Feel Comfortable Asking Your Doctor Questions

Your doctor is your main source of health support. Asking your doctor questions is a natural step in forming a trusting relationship and getting the health care you truly need. Here are a few reasons why you should feel comfortable asking your doctor questions:

  • Medications impact your daily life. It’s only natural to wonder what effect, if any, a new prescription might have on your health. Get clear answers from your doctor about what statins will mean for your body. Ask if there are any drug interactions with other medications you are taking that could pose a concern.
  • Asking your doctor questions sets the precedent for strong communication. You should be a fierce advocate for your health. If you need help communicating with a doctor, ask a trusted loved one to accompany you to doctor’s appointments. This way, you will get the support you need. 
  • Establishing a direct line of communication with your doctor is an important step in your health journey. When you are able to ask your doctor questions, you open up other avenues for honesty. For example, a successful doctor-patient relationship relies on the patient’s ability to accurately and truthfully describe their symptoms. As you become comfortable asking questions of your doctor, you will also become comfortable describing what’s happening with your body on a day-to-day basis.
  • Questions provide you with more information about the appointment itself. If you’re feeling confused about certain tests or labs, you can ask your doctor about them. Your doctor will provide a better understanding of what will be expected of you and when you will get your results. 
  • Asking questions ensures better care. The more informed you are about your treatment plan, the more in-depth your care will be. Doctors might ignore or misinterpret certain symptoms. By asking questions and creating rapport with your doctor, you can improve the likelihood that they will pay attention to your needs. 

It’s important to build trust with your care team[3]. Misinformation is everywhere. It’s more difficult now than ever to tell fact from fiction. However, most medical professionals have your best interests at heart. Your continued health maintenance is reliant on a foundation of trust between you and your care team. Your ability to trust in your doctor’s guidance directly impacts your health. Doing your own research is only valuable so long as you can discuss your findings with a trusted medical professional. Make sure to discuss potential additions or changes to your health care plan with your doctor, including whether statins will work for you. If you feel you are unable to trust your physician for any reason, seek out a new doctor with whom you feel a rapport.

Take Control of Your Health Maintenance with Alert1 

As you learn more about statins, you might start to wonder in what other ways could you improve your health? A medical alert system can complement your health maintenance plan.

If you fall or have any type of emergency, you’ll immediately connect with an agent at Alert1’s 24/7 Diamond Certified Command Centers. TMA 5 Diamond Certified indicates that agents have completed an arduous training process with The Monitoring Association to better assist you. Alert1 Command Centers are based in the United States. 

Some parts of your health care might feel out of your control. Alert1 gives you control in your own emergency response plan. You have control over who Alert1 will contact in an emergency. Customize whether you want to call 911, a neighbor to come check on you, or have a notification sent to loved ones. An Alert1 agent will let the people in your Circle of Care know of your emergency in the exact order you would like. Additionally, Alert1 Command Centers support 190 languages, so no one should ever have to worry about being able to communicate to get help fast in a time of need. 

Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS) Support Your Independence & Keep You Protected

Choose a button alarm system that works for your lifestyle, needs, and budget. You might realize that you need peace of mind while grocery shopping or visiting with your grandchildren. In this case, an On-the-Go medical alert system could work best.

Alert1 medical alert pendants and alert bracelets may make you feel more comfortable. An In-Home + On-the-Go + Fall Detection medical alert system may best suit your lifestyle. Fall detection technology benefits seniors who live alone or might not have someone to immediately check on them or lift them if they go down. If you are elderly and wish to age in place while maintaining independence and control, your health maintenance plan can benefit from a button alarm system.






[1] Grey, Heather. 2021, Oct. 12. Everything You Need to Know About High Cholesterol. Healthline.com. Everything You Need to Know About High Cholesterol.

[2] Mayo Clinic Staff. 2020, Jan. 14. Statin side effects: Weigh the benefits and risks. Mayo Clinic. Statin side effects: Weigh the benefits and risks.

[3] Epstein, Helene M. 2021. Feeling Dismissed and Ignored by Your Doctor? Do this. Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine. Feeling Dismissed and Ignored by Your Doctor? Do this.