Muscle Pain Not Likely Caused by Statins

High cholesterol is a common health condition – nearly 94 million American adults over the age of 20 have borderline high cholesterol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Although they may be prescribed a statin to lower their high cholesterol, an important tool to prevent cardiovascular problems, many patients stop taking the medication because of side effects.  A new study has found that muscle pain, an associated side effect of statins, is not caused by the drug in 90 percent of patients. 

According to research, published in The Lancet, a review of 19 large double-blind trials of statins, as opposed to a placebo, found a “moderate-intensity statin regime” is likely to be the cause of muscle symptoms in only about 1 in 15 patients.   The likelihood of muscle pain or weakness increases to approximately 1 in 10 on a more intensive regime. 

As recently reported by CNN Health, the new research confirms that in the majority of cases, statin therapy is not likely the cause of muscle pain, particularly if the treatment has been well tolerated for a year or more before the onset of muscle symptoms.  Prior non-randomized studies without the use of a placebo produced “extreme” estimates of how much muscle pain statins actually caused, leading many patients to stop treatment. 

Researchers hope that with better information about the actual risks of statin-associated muscle symptoms, more people will stay on statin therapies.  Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in most racial and ethnic groups in the United States.  According to the American College of Cardiology, statins are recommended in adults between the ages of 40 and 75 who have at least one risk factor of cardiovascular disease and a 10 percent or greater risk of heart attack in the next 10 years.   Statins have been directly associated with a reduction in the risk of heart attack and stroke. 

In addition to regular health screenings with your primary care provider, it’s also important to get regular exercise, eat a healthy diet, drink alcohol only in moderation, and maintain a healthy body weight to lower the risk for high cholesterol.  Read more to understand your cholesterol levels and keep your heart healthy by following this link to the American Heart Association website.