Pravastatin is a statin drug which works within your body to reduce fatty substances, including cholesterol and triglycerides. Used in conjunction with diet and exercise, it may lower your risk of stroke and heart attack. While the cholesterol-lowering benefits are clear, pravastatin is not without risk of side effects.
Musculoskeletal Side Effects
Rarely, statin drugs like Pravastatin have been linked to severe rhabdomyolisis and myopathy. These conditions contribute to increased levels of creatine kinase, proteinuria, myoglobinuria and kidney failure. Additional variable like age, liver or kidney dysfunction, hypothyroidism, diabetes, alcoholism, small body type and female gender increase the risk of developing these side effects. If you notice tenderness, muscle pain or weakness you should contact your doctor as these may be a sign of serious muscular side effects.
Major Organ Effects
Gastrointestinal side effects are most commonly reported and include abdominal pain, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation, nausea/vomiting and increased heartburn. Rarely, pancreatitis and anorexia have also been reported. Liver effects, including hepatitis, fatty changes in the liver, cirrhosis, fulminant hepatic necrosis and cholestatic jaundice, have been reported. Additionally, some patients experience ongoing elevation in their liver function tests. Kidney effects include myoglobinuria and renal failure resulting from rhabdomyolysis. Pravastatin may increase your risk of progressive cataracts and/or opthalmoplegia.
Hemotological side effects include thrombocytopenia, hemolytic anemia, leucopenia and TTP (thrombocytopenic purpura). Your nervous system may be affected. Side effects like headache, drowsiness and dizziness have been reported. Cranial nerve dysfunction, vertigo, fatigue, tremor, memory loss, peripheral nerve palsy, peripheral neuropathy, paresthesias and a decline in cognitive abilities have also been reported. The endocrine system may be affected as thyroid abnormalities, gynecomastia, hypospermia and acid maltase deficiency have been reported. Immune function may be affected. Polymyalgia rheumatica, vasculitis, elevated ESR, positive ANA and a lupus-like syndrome have all been reported.
Pravastatin’s effect on skin includes rash, bullous erythematous lesions, erythema multiforme, toxic epidermal necrolysis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, purpura, photosensitivity and alopecia. Hypersensitive reactions are rare but several have been reported (like urticaria, anaphylaxis, angioedema, fever, malaise, chills and dyspnea). Other side effects include insomnia, anxiety, decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, impotence, depression, suicidal thoughts, paranoia, delusions, nightmares and agitation.
Only you and your doctor can determine if pravastatin is right for you. Be sure to tell your doctor about any allergies that you have and all medications that you are taking (including over-the-counter, prescription, herbal supplements and vitamins) to avoid a potentially dangerous interaction or adverse pravastatin effects. Also talk to your doctor about your alcohol consumption. While taking this medication, you should follow a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet.
In September 2008, the United States Food and Drug Administration announced that the use of statin medications (like pravastatin) does not present an increased risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, best known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease." The effects of statins were studies in more than 40 long-term clinical trials which showed no increased occurrence of the disease as compared to patients receiving a placebo.