Reassuring News About Statins From Two Very Different Studies

by Rachel Baker on March 23, 2014

If you are one of the 15 million Americans taking statin drugs to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke or angina, this is great news regarding side effects.

Although clinical trials have consistently demonstrated the benefits of statins, the perception that the drugs can cause serious side effects has prompted some patients to discontinue or not take the drugs. Now two new very different studies, one a large meta-analysis and one a tiny study with only a handful of patients, provide some convincing reassurance that most of the side effects that have been tied to statins do not appear to be actually caused by the drugs.

A Large Meta-Analysis: In the first study, a very large meta-analysis published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, researchers in the UK analyzed data from more than 83,00 patients randomized to statin therapy or placebo and found “little evidence of incremental symptomatic side effects beyond placebo,” though they did find a small absolute increase of 0.4% in people taking statins who had asymptomatic liver enzyme elevations.

The authors reported that although there were many reports of side effects often linked to statins, including myopathy, fatigue, muscle aches, and rhabdomyolysis, none occurred more often in the statin patients than in the placebo patients.

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