Benefits of statins - far more than the risks

Benefits of statins - far more than the risks

The benefits of statins in reducing the odds of heart attacks and strokes far outweigh any risks of side effects, stated the American Heart Association, Reuters reported.


This scientific statement is  based on a review of a lot of studies evaluating the safety and side effects of the widely used cholesterol-lowering drugs.


Possible side effects of taking statins


The authors urge patients to see a health care provider before quitting statins because of presumed side effects, except in the case of one type of symptom: dark urine the color of cola or coffee.


That symptom can be the sign of the rare, but dangerous, side effect called rhabdomyolysis, a condition in which muscle fibers break down rapidly. The condition can result in acute kidney failure.


For consumers, the message is that the benefits of statins well outweigh the risk of important harms,” said statement coauthor Dr. Larry Goldstein.


Rhabdomyolysis is seen in fewer than one in 1,000 patients taking statin therapy, Goldstein and his coauthors reported.


The other serious side effect is severe liver damage, which the authors reported occurred in about one in 100,000 patients taking statins.


What about routine muscle and liver tests?


Routine tests of muscle and liver function are not recommended, Goldstein explained to Reuters.


An assessment of muscle symptoms and other medications that can affect the muscles is recommended as a baseline.”


Most muscle aches and pains in people taking statins are not serious and are not necessarily caused by statins, Goldstein said. In his opinion, these symptoms are more likely to be statin related if they affect both sides of the body and the thigh and shoulder muscles and occur within the first few weeks or months of starting treatment.


On the other hand, severe liver impairment is very rare. As a result, skin and eyes become yellow, we detect dark urine, abdominal pain, itchy skin, pale stool and bruising.


Risk of diabetes


The researchers also determined that statins could raise the risk of diabetes - but only in people who were likely to develop the disease anyway, based on their risk factors. The risk for bleeding in the brain was not increased with statin use, except in those who had already had a stroke.


The authors found “no convincing evidence for a causal relationship between statins and cancer, cataracts, cognitive dysfunction, peripheral neuropathy, erectile dysfunction, or tendonitis.”


When we do not take statins


If the patient decides not to take statins, he’ll have 25 to 50 percent increased risk of having a heart attack, a stroke or a premature cardiovascular death,” warns Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles who was not involved with the new article.