Death Due to Statins

Statins are a class of drugs designed to lower levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol in at-risk individuals. Although these compounds are generally considered to be safe, in rare cases they can trigger life-threatening complications.

  1. The Facts

    • According to the Mayo Clinic, statins are generally well-tolerated, with relatively minor side effects. They achieve their effects by blocking a substance used for cholesterol production.

    Dangerous Side Effects

    • The Mayo Clinic does cite two potentially serious side effects of statin use. In some individuals, statins raise the levels of liver enzymes which, if unaddressed, may lead to permanent liver damage. Statin use may also trigger a life-threatening condition called rhabdomyolysis.


    • Rhabdomyolysis occurs when muscle tissue breaks down and releases a protein called myoglobin. When myoglobin enters the bloodstream in sufficient amounts, it can trigger symptoms including kidney damage, acute kidney failure, coma and death.

    Risk Factors

    • When taken in combination with statins, certain drugs are known to increase the chances of rhabdomyolysis development. These compounds include cyclosporine, niacin, erythromycin, gemfibrozil, verapamil and some antifungals.

    Additional Considerations

    • Taking larger doses of statins may also increase the chances of developing rhabdomyolysis.

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