Lifesaving cholesterol management drugs have recently been found to worsen the incidence of joint and muscular injury.

Five to eight million Americans use cholesterol management drugs, called statins, to control their cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is a fatty molecule needed for the body's proper functioning, as it provides necessary structural support at the cellular level for major tissues like the muscles and joints. Normal levels of cholesterol in joints help to lubricate them. In muscles, cholesterol helps keep the fibers supple and ready to move or react to stimuli.

However, it can be problematic when cholesterol levels become too high and create the risk for plaque formation. Arterial plaques form in blood vessels when there is excess cholesterol in the blood, usually caused by the intake of fatty and processed foods. As cholesterol-rich blood flows through vessels, the cholesterol, which is tacky, will stick to the walls of the vessel. This adherence to vessel walls narrows and hardens them, though they are supposed to be flexible and wide enough to allow blood flow, causing people to become more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and strokes.

However, cholesterol management drugs can keep the risk for heart attacks and other heart issues at bay. By reducing the amount of cholesterol in the blood, they help prevent the formation and build-up of plaque.

Drugs that manage high cholesterol are usually statin-based. Statins are biological molecules that inhibit the body from producing cholesterol in the first place. This is helpful for reduction of blood cholesterol and treatment of cardiovascular disease. However, vital body parts that require cholesterol for their function are proven to be negatively affected as well. There are many side effects to be dealt with during statin use.

Manufacturers' warnings about side effects include muscle pain and weakness, memory loss, fatigue, sleep disturbances, sexual dysfunction, and depression. There is also a higher risk of developing diabetes.

In a recent study, statin users have been found to be 13 percent more likely to dislocate joints and experience strains and sprains. These people have an overall 20 percent higher risk of encountering muscle problems during and after the cholesterol drug use than people who do not use the drugs.

The drawback of statin use in terms of musculosketeal disorders is not very pronounced: those on the drugs have a 87 percent risk of muscular issues, while those not on it have a similar 85 percent risk. The researchers have also found that if one percent of these patients stopped taking cholesterol management drugs, there would be 2,000 more heart attacks and strokes over the next 10 years, while the patients avoided only 1,000 incidences of musculoskeletal problems.

Dr. Gregg Fonarow, spokesman for the American Heart Association, said, "This study provides further evidence that the proven cardiovascular benefits outweigh any potential risks, including musculoskeletal issues."

While cholesterol-controlling drugs may cause some aches and pains in their users, there are far more drawbacks, like heart attack or heart failure, to not using the drugs that patients must consider.