Side Effects To Look Out For When Taking Pravastatin

by Vincent on April 29, 2013

pravastatinPravastatin is the generic name for Pravachol, one of the earliest statins used to lower LDL cholesterol levels. Since it is one of the most mild statins in terms of efficacy, its side effect profile is typically the most benign of the entire class. Nonetheless, there are still several side effects of this drug that one needs to look out for.

All statins, including pravastatin, have the potential to cause liver damage. In clinical trials it was found to raise liver enzyme levels in a small percentage of users. For this reason, no one should take it without having regular liver enzyme monitoring done in order to ensure that there is no substantial damage to the liver.

Rhabdomyolysis with acute renal failure is also one of the rarely observed side effects, as with most statins. This refers to a rapid break down of muscle tissue, which causes myoglobin to accumulate in the bloodstream. Long term levels of this breakdown product can damage the kidney, leading to rare cases of kidney disease. Note that many people who take statins commonly complain on muscle pain for this reason and will often switch medicines before any significant permanent damage is done.

In long term clinical studies, the rate of most side effects of pravastatin when compared to placebo were comparable. Only a few were shown to be statistically significant. Headache was one of the most common, judged to be caused by the drug in 1.7% of patients involved in clinical studies versus only 0.2% in placebo. There also was a significantly higher rate of influenza, but that was believed to be causes by a statistical anomaly and not the drug.

The profile of pravastatin side effects is pretty benign as prescription medicines go, particularly in the statin class. That being said, one must always remember that these are man-made molecules and the long term side-effect of decades of habitual use might not be well known for a while since rigorous clinical trial follow-up is usually limited to a few years before a drug is approved.

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