Anti-cholesterol statins have ‘less than imagined’ side effects risk

Anti-cholesterol statins have ‘less than imagined’ side effects risk

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Around seven to eight million people in the UK take statins to cut their chance of heart attack and stroke.

Experts said up to half of people stop taking the medication, cut the dose or take them irregularly due to issues with muscle pain and other side-effects, such as digestive problems, issues with sleep and headaches.

In research published in the European Heart Journal, which analysed studies on more than four million people, experts put the true level of statin intolerance – where patients develop side effects from the drug- at between six percent and 10 percent.

Statins are a group of medicines that can help lower the level of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol – often referred to as “bad cholesterol” – in the blood.

LDL cholesterol is linked to cardiovascular disease, which can increase the chance of strokes and heart attacks, and death.

In the study, led by Professor Maciej Banach, of the Medical University of Lodz and the University of Zielona Gora, Poland, on behalf of the Lipid and Blood Pressure Meta-Analysis

Collaboration and the International Lipid Expert Panel, experts analysed 176 studies with 4,143,517 patients worldwide.

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People were typically aged around 60 in the study and 40 percent were female. Prof Banach said the findings showed that life-saving “statins can be used safely in most patients”.

Researchers found that people who were older, female, of black or Asian background, obese, suffering from diabetes, under-active thyroid glands, or chronic liver or kidney failure were more likely to be statin intolerant.

People on some drugs, such as for high blood pressure, and those who drank lots of alcohol also had a higher risk of statin intolerance.

Prof Banach added doctors need to confirm whether symptoms are indeed caused by statins, “and secondly, to evaluate whether it might be patients’ perceptions that statins are harmful – which could be responsible for more than 50 per cent of all symptoms, rather than the drug.

He added: “These results clearly show that patients needn’t be afraid of statin therapy as it is very well tolerated in as much as 93 percent.

“Patients need to know that statins may prolong their life, and in cases where side-effects appear, we have enough knowledge to manage these.

“The most important message to patients is that they should keep on taking statins according to the prescribed dose, and discuss any sideeffects with their doctor, rather than discontinuing the medication.”

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