The warning sign in your urine of a ‘life-threatening’ complication

Checking the colour of your urine from time to time could provide you with a wealth of health information – such as signs of a bacterial infection, levels of hydration and even rhabdomyolysis.

Before flushing the toilet, check it’s colour – it could indicate rhabdomyolysis – a deadly complication of statins.

What are statins?

Statins are a group of drugs which act to reduce levels of cholesterol in the blood.

Having a high level of LDL cholesterol is potentially dangerous – as it can lead to heart disease, the most common cause of death in the UK.

A doctor may recommend taking statins if either you have been diagnosed with a form of heart disease or your family medical history suggests you’re likely to develop one.

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What is Rhabdomyolysis?

Side effects of statins are rare but they should be taken with caution if you’re at an increased risk of developing a rare side effect called myopathy, which is where the tissues of your muscles become damaged and painful. Severe myopathy is known as rhabdomyolysis.

Rhabdomyolysis is the breakdown of damaged muscle, leading to proteins and electrolytes released into the blood.

As such, organ damage can follow, which may cause a myriad of health issues such as:

  • Kidney damage
  • Kidney failure
  • Seizures
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Permanent disability
  • Death

Other symptoms might include Muscle cramps, aches, or pains that are considered “severe”, feeling weak or tired, unable to complete job tasks or finish a workout routine.

Dark, tea-coloured urine is also a symptom of rhabdomyolysis.

The “only accurate” test for rhabdomyolysis is a blood test that measures the amount of muscle protein (creatine kinase) in your blood.

This life-threatening complication of statins is rare – on average, the risk is around 1.5 for each 100,000 people taking statins.

There are other causes of rhabdomyolysis, according to the Centre for Disease Control.

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Examples include illegal drug use, such as cocaine, and excessive alcohol consumption.

Other causes include supplementation with creatine and ephedrine, and consuming large amounts of caffeine.

If caught early, however, long-lasting effects are diminished.


The NHS assured that most people taking statins will “tolerate them well”.

More common side effects can include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling sick
  • Sleep problems

Any bothersome side effects should be discussed with your doctor.

This is because it is possible to be prescribed another statin that may be more suitable.

Moreover, the dosage can be adjusted so that you suffer from less side effects – never suffer in silence.

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