While there are some side effects of stopping Lipitor, using high doses of the medication for extended periods of time can cause even more severe adverse effects. The main ingredient in this drug, atorvastatin, is a heavily studied substance that is linked to many major complications. Initially, studies focused on the efficacy of the drug and how atorvastatin interacted with pregnant patients. However, since 2009, several studies have shown a strong link between atorvastatin and development of Type 2 diabetes in postmenopausal women.
Atorvastatin is prescribed to people who are struggling with high cholesterol. It works by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase. This enzyme converts various substances to mevalonate, a building block of several steroids, including cholesterol. It has shown to be effective in reducing cholesterol, low density lipoproteins and triglycerides. This greatly decreases the risk of several cardiovascular problems, like heart attacks or strokes. To achieve this, though, doctors normally have to keep patients on atorvastatin regularly and occasionally at high doses.
People who use high doses of atorvastatin may experience some side effects of stopping Lipitor should they discontinue the drug. Patients have reported a number of adverse complications, but the only one to be studied is a worse prognosis following ischemic stroke. This is a stroke that cuts off blood to the brain. Normally, this is already life-threatening, but the chance of death and severe brain damage are higher in those that abruptly stop taking atorvastatin.
For this reason, it is not a good idea to suddenly halt usage of atorvastatin, even among patients worried about side effects of the medication. Stopping Lipitor should be done with the guidance of a doctor and will usually be a gradual process.
However, patients who are taking atorvastatin long term, especially postmenopausal women, must monitor how their body interacts with the medication. A study in 2004, published in the medical journal Circulation, showed that high dosages of atorvastatin were associated with impaired glycemic control. Several studies and a meta-analysis from 2009 to 2012 displayed a link between Lipitor usage and Type 2 diabetes. In 2012, a study produced by the University of Massachusetts Medical School showed that the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes was particularly high for postmenopausal women. Many women halt the use of atorvastatin to avoid side effects of the drug, but stopping Lipitor may not immediately curb the risk of Type 2 diabetes. High doses of statins can cause long term malfunction of glycemic control.
The study followed about 154,000 women with an average age of 63. After controlling for other risk factors, such as age, obesity and lifestyle choices, it was found that women who were taking statins were 50 percent more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. Glycemic control refers to the body’s ability to maintain proper glucose levels in the blood, usually through mediating insulin concentrations. When the body loses this ability, the amount of glucose in the blood may spike, causing a number of health concerns.
Anyone who has taken the medication and experienced major side effects of atorvastatin, even after stopping Lipitor, should consider speaking to a personal injury lawyer immediately. An experienced attorney can often help a victim receive compensation for their suffering.