← Return to Statins - side-effects, PMR, Giant Cell Arteritis

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Hi John,
Thanks for your response. He doesn't currently have an infection. Our concern is that when they started him on Lipitor in Feb he developed a cough and cold-like symptoms. Around the same time he developed Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA) so they stopped the Lipitor and all supplements, just giving Prednisone until we figured out what was going on. That's when we got the GCA diagnosis.

Fast-forward, and there is talk about him restarting the Lipitor. But last time it caused a cough and cold-like symptoms and we want to avoid him getting any kind of infection because he's on Actemra. Things are going as well as could be expected. He's lowered his prednisone from 80 mg per day down to 30 mg per day with the help of Actemra, and we're still in the tapering stage. Some of his worst side-effects from Prednisone are lessening and we'd like to keep on this good path. The goal is to get him off prednisone or at least way lower dose an stay on Actemra for a couple years, according to his doctor.

Throwing a statin in at this point scares me.

It's really hard communicating with his rheumatologist. We have an appointment in later June which is good. In-person. I tried to get a virtual appointment and none until August. Which is frustrating. We'll also contact our GP who has been helpful with some things.

I appreciate all the responses I've gotten from people on this site. It's so helpful!!

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Replies to "@johnbishop Hi John, Thanks for your response. He doesn't currently have an infection. Our concern is..."

I doubt Lipitor caused the cough etc. But it’s not obvious to me why he needs it at all. Low Cholesterol count, 11% risk - neither suggest priority to me. I would tell his primary that you’d like to move Lipitor to the back of the shelf for now while you have more pressing variables to monitor and control.

My quick take: If you and your husband aren’t comfortable with adding a statin while he’s continuing to manage the GCA/PMR symptoms and prednisone taper, I would talk with his doctor about it. And perhaps tell them about your concerns. My dad’s care team has mostly been receptive when we’ve told them it’s a lot already with him recovering from PMR and a stroke, and managing a prednisone taper. He tends to get severe side effects to new medications and adding a new thing on top of everything would just be too much.

It is a “risk” because my dad has athlerosclerosis, but we decided it’s a greater negative impact on his quality of life to throw a statin on top of everything else.

Some doctors push back on that because there’s official “guidance” that dictates when to recommend a statin to a patient. So the worst doctors we’ve seen just seem like they’re on autopilot and see his labs, in combination with his age, and the plaques and push a statin. But the doctors who know him better thankfully take a more holistic approach.

My dad had a very similar experience where statins clouded the picture—right down to what you said about your husband rarely taking medication and it all being a lot. My dad was prescribed the highest dose of Lipitor despite having good cholesterol because he has athlerosclerosis. He’d never regularly taken medication and had bad side effects that masked the PMR he was developing. So we also stopped the statin to figure out what was going on. We realized it was best not to resume the statin in the end.

It’s a risk either way, but the hard part is figuring out what you’re both comfortable with. Wishing you and your husband all the best!