Statins are commonly prescribed to reduce risk of developing cardiovascular diseases like myocardial infarction and stroke. It is estimated that more than 200 million people worldwide are prescribed statins. How does the drug affect a person’s gut health?
The human gut microbiota consists of trillions of bacteria, fungi and viruses constituting an inner chemical factory producing a multitude of microbial compounds affecting immunity, neurobiology and metabolism.
It has long been known that imbalances in the composition of gut microbes link with a variety of chronic human disorders spanning from obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel diseases to depression, schizophrenia, autism and Parkinson disease.
What is the link between statin therapy and gut microbiota?
In a study published in Frontiers in Microbiology, alterations in gut microbiota by statin therapy with possible effects on hyperglycaemia and hyperlipidaemia were analysed. Alterations in Gut Microbiota by Statin Therapy and Possible Intermediate Effects on Hyperglycemia and Hyperlipidemia
The study noted: “Statin therapy with atorvastatin and rosuvastatin significantly altered the gut microbiota in an aged obese mice model.
“The abundance of the genera Bacteroides, Butyricimonas, and Mucispirillum was significantly increased by statins, and this was related to hyperglycaemia and hyperlipidaemia.
“In particular, Butyricimonas may be related to the anti-hyperglycaemic effect of statins.
“These results suggest that the alterations in gut microbiota by statins may be one of therapeutic targets for the treatment of hyperglycaemia.”
Side effects can vary between different statins, but common side effects include:
- Feeling sick
- Feeling unusually tired or physically weak
- Digestive system problems, such as constipation, diarrhoea, indigestion or farting
- Muscle pain
- Sleep problems
- Low blood platelet count.
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