View Full Version : 'Unintended' statin side-effect risks uncovered

05-24-10, 03:45 PM
Nice to be validated after all this time...

GPs should think more carefully about prescribing cholesterol-busting drugs say researchers who highlighted a range of "unintended" side effects.

Some doses and types of statins are linked with a greater risk of adverse effects, including liver problems and kidney failure, the UK research showed.
Doctors will have access to a computer program based on the findings to help spot those most at risk.
Millions of UK adults take the drugs to reduce heart attack and stroke risk.
The researchers, from the University of Nottingham, stressed that for many people the benefits of statins outweighed any adverse effects, but the findings would help weigh up the pros and cons in each patient.
There are plans to prescribe statins on the NHS in around one in four adults aged over 40.
The Department of Health had predicted prescriptions for the drugs would rise by 30% a year, as GPs find more and more people eligible.
At the moment, anyone judged to have a one in five or greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease over 10 years is advised to take a statin.
But there has been much debate over side effects and the latest research set out to confirm where the problems may lie in a "real life" population.

Unintended effects
Researchers looked at data from more than two million 30-84 year-olds from GP practices in England and Wales over a six-year period.
Adverse effects identified in the study, published in the British Medical Journal, include liver problems, acute kidney failure, muscle weakness and cataracts.
For kidney failure and liver dysfunction, higher doses of the drugs seemed to be associated with greater risk. Risks of side-effects were greatest in the first year of use.
On the positive side, the analysis also showed no significant association between the use of statins and the risk of Parkinson's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, blood clot, dementia, osteoporotic fracture, or many cancers including gastric, colon, lung, renal, breast or prostate.

For every 10,000 women treated with statins:
• 271 fewer cases of cardiovascular disease
• 8 fewer cases of oesophageal cancer
• 23 extra patients with acute kidney failure
• 73 extra patients with liver dysfunction
• 307 extra patients with cataracts
• 39 extra patients with muscle weakness
Figures were similar for men, except there would be 110 extra cases of muscle weakness

Study leader Professor Julia Hippisley-Cox, who also works as a GP, said the computer programme they had devised meant GPs could work out which patients were most at risk of side-effects and whether their risk of heart disease was high enough to warrant them taking statins.
"People should be able to make an informed choice," she said.
"There are risks and benefits to all medicines, but if you have a patient at higher risk than average of something serious you might want to warn them to come back if they have problems."
June Davison, cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: "We already know that a small number of people taking statins experience unwanted side effects.
"However, for people with, or at high risk of heart disease, the benefits of statins far outweigh this risk.
"Anybody experiencing side effects while taking statins should speak to their doctor."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2010/05/20

05-24-10, 03:52 PM
It's well-known (and well documented) in the natural health community that total cholesterol below 300 is normal and beneficial. Every cell in your body and brain needs it. The heavier you are, the more demands your body makes for it to support cell wall structure. Lose weight and your cholesterol will automatically fall. As for muscle damage...remember that your heart is a muscle.

05-24-10, 03:53 PM
Slightly different emphasis, more detail:

(Reuters) - People using cholesterol-lowering statins have a higher risks of liver dysfunction, kidney failure, muscle weakness and cataracts and such side effects of the drug should be closely tracked, doctors said on Friday.
Health (http://www.reuters.com/news/health)
In a study covering more than 2 million people in Britain, researchers from Nottingham University found that adverse side effects of statins, which are prescribed to people with high levels cholesterol to cut the risk of heart disease, were generally worst in the first year of treatment.
The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, are unlikely to affect the use of best-selling medicines like Pfizer's Lipitor and AstraZeneca's Crestor, but the study's authors said patients taking statins should be "proactively monitored" for side effects.
"Our study is likely to be useful for policy and planning purposes," said Julia Hippisley-Cox and Carol Coupland, the two professors who led the study. They said it may also be useful "for informing guidelines on the type and dose of statins."
Statins are among the most successful drugs of all time and have been credited with preventing millions of heart attacks and strokes. Heart disease is the biggest killer of men and women in the rich world and is also a growing health problem in developing nations.
In a commentary on the study, senior cardiologists Alawi Alsheikh-Al, of the Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in the United Arab Emirates, and Richard Karas of the Tufts University School of Medicine in the United States, said that, like any medical treatment, statins are not completely risk free, but that when used properly, their benefits outweigh their risks.
"It would be wise to interpret the present observations in the context of the confirmed cardioprotective effects of statins and remind ourselves and our patients that these drugs, although considered safe, are, like any intervention in medicine, not entirely free of adverse events," they wrote.
Coupland and Hippisley-Cox studied data from 368 general practices on 2,004,692 patients aged 30-84 years including 225,922 patients who were new statin users and had been prescribed a range of statins.
They found that for every 10,000 high risk women treated with statins, the positive impact would be around 271 fewer cases of heart disease and 8 fewer cases of oesophageal cancer.
On the other side, there would also be 74 extra patients with liver dysfunction, 23 extra patients with acute renal failure, 307 with cataracts and 39 with a muscle weakness condition called myopathy.
Similar figures were found for men except rates of myopathy were higher, they said. They noted that some of the effects might be due to better detection rates since patients taking statins are likely to consult their doctors more often.
The adverse effects were similar for all different types of statins, except for liver dysfunction, where the highest risks were found for fluvastatin, which is sold by Novartis under the brand names Lescol and Lochol.
"All of the increased risks persisted during the treatment, but were highest in the first year," they wrote.
(Editing by David Cowell)


05-24-10, 07:36 PM
Statins are among the most successful drugs of all time and have been credited with preventing millions of heart attacks and strokes.

Too hard to try to quote, but that statement is a blatant lie...but the vast majority of health care providers AND patients are so brainwashed they'll spout what they're told without any research to back it up. They may be successful but they are also successfully killing people right and left and causing misery while not helping.

Now that my thyroid is adequately treated, I eat a diet HIGH in saturated fat, yet my cholesterol has dropped from over 300 to 157 (now it's too low, lol) and triglycerides (one of the real risk indicators which statins barely touch) has dropped from over 200 to 89. High cholesterol used to be a benchmark for diagnosing hypothyroidism...now maybe one out of a million docs are aware of that.