Physicians and other providers can be assured that, for most patients, the benefits of statin use greatly outweigh the risks of adverse events and side effects, according to a new statement published by the American Heart Association (AHA).1
The statement includes an extensive review of statin safety and tolerability, which was conducted by the AHA Clinical Lipidology, Lipoprotein, Metabolism and Thrombosis Committee, along with several other committees and councils.
Among the most prominent findings were that:
- The risk of serious muscle injury, including rhabdomyolysis, due to statin use is less than 0.1%.
- The risk of statin-induced serious hepatotoxicity is approximately 0.001%.
- The risk of newly diagnosed diabetes caused by statin use is approximately 0.2% per year of treatment and can vary based on underlying diabetes risk in certain populations.
- Statins may be associated with an increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke in patients with cerebrovascular disease; however, statins are clearly associated with a greater reduction atherothrombotic stroke risk and thus total stroke risk, as well as other cardiovascular events.
- No convincing evidence exists to support a causal relationship between statins and cancer, cataracts, cognitive dysfunction, peripheral neuropathy, erectile dysfunction, or tendonitis.
Among Americans older than age 40 years, approximately 1 in 4 uses statins to lower the risks of heart attack, stroke, and other events associated with atherosclerotic disease. However, as many as 10% of these patients discontinue their statin use due to side effects they assume are caused by the drug.
Former AHA president Mark Creager, MD, director of the Heart and Vascular Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center New Hampshire, emphasized that patients should not discontinue statin use on their own, but should discuss their concerns about side effects with their healthcare provider.2
“Stopping a statin can significantly increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke caused by a blocked artery,” Dr Creager said in a press release.2
To read the AHA’s full statement, click here.
1. Newman CB, Preiss D, Tobert JA, et al. Statin safety and associated adverse events: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association [Published online December 10, 2018]. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. doi:10.1161/ATV.0000000000000073.
2. Statins have low risk of side effects: American Heart Association statement [press release]. Dallas, TX. December 10, 2018. https://newsroom.heart.org/news/statins-have-low-risk-of-side-effects?preview=eff1. Accessed on December 10, 2018.
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