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Lipitor and Kidney Damage

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Researchers have published numerous studies linking Lipitor and kidney damage. Some of the worst kidney damage occurs in Lipitor patients who develop type-2 diabetes or a severe muscle disease called rhabdomyolysis. Individuals with kidney damage may require hospitalization, dialysis, or a kidney transplant. In rare cases, kidney failure from Lipitor can cause death.

UPDATE: Study Links Lipitor to to Kidney Injury

June 11, 2013 — A study published in the British Medical Journal has linked “high-potency” Lipitor to a 34% increased risk of kidney disease than “low-potency” statins. Click here to read more.

Lipitor and Kidney Damage

Lipitor (generic: atorvastatin) is a popular drug that is used by millions of people to treat high cholesterol. Like all medications, Lipitor can have some serious side effects. One of these side effects is kidney damage (also known as “renal disease”), which can progress to life-threatening kidney failure and even death.

Anyone who takes Lipitor can develop kidney problems. However, the risk is highest in the first year of taking Lipitor. It is also higher for people who combine Lipitor with other medications that are difficult for the kidneys to filter from the bloodstream. Kidney failure can also occur as a complication of other Lipitor side effects, such as rhabdomyolysis or type-2 diabetes.

The kidneys are vital organs that remove excess fluids and waste products from the blood. They can continue functioning with minor damage, though they may be less efficient at cleaning the blood. In end-stage kidney disease, patients may need dialysis (mechanical cleaning of their blood), hospitalization, or kidney transplants.

Kidney Damage from Rhabdomyolysis

Another dangerous side effect of Lipitor is rhabdomyolysis, which is a type of muscle disease that can cause acute kidney failure. Rhabdomyolysis occurs when muscle fibers break down very rapidly and release protein into the bloodstream. When this blood is filtered by the kidneys, the protein clogs the kidneys and causes irreversible damage.

Studies of Lipitor and Kidney Damage

Since Lipitor was introduced to the U.S. market in 1997, numerous studies have linked it to kidney problems. One of the most recent studies was published in January 2013 by the British Medical Journal. Researchers analyzed medical records on more than 2 million patients, and found that kidney problems were far more common in patients taking “high-potency” statins like Lipitor, Crestor, and Zocor:

“Current users of high-potency statins were 34% more likely to be hospitalized with acute kidney injury within 120 days of starting treatment.”

Symptoms of Kidney Damage

Kidney damage can occur for many years without producing symptoms. By the time symptoms appear, the kidneys may be severely damaged.

Symptoms of kidney damage include:

  • Feeling weak, tired, and ill
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weigh loss
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Itchy or dry skin
  • Changes in urinary habits
  • Anemia
  • Swelling in the feet or ankles
  • High blood pressure
  • And more

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