Statins may have fewer side effects than claimed
New research from the U.K. has concluded that statins—drugs that act to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood—have fewer side effects than previously thought.
The study refutes previous research that has linked statins to many symptomatic side effects, including nausea, fatigue and insomnia.
Scientists from Imperial College London conducted a meta-analysis involving 29 randomized controlled trials and more than 80,000 patients. They collected data on the cardiovascular events, fatalities and the following adverse side effects: nausea, renal disorder, myopathy and muscle breakdown, muscle ache, insomnia, fatigue and gastrointestinal disturbance.
The findings, published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology, showed that, between the group of participants given statins and the group given a placebo, there was no significant difference in the side effects commonly attributed to statins. In fact, some patients taking statins actually experienced fewer adverse symptoms than did patients taking the placebo, according to the researchers.
One new risk the researchers were able to identify, however, was the onset of diabetes. The findings suggest that one in five new cases of diabetes may be directly related to statins.
As a result of clearer benefits and risks of the drug, the U.K.s National Health Service (NHS) said it plans to draft new guidelines advising men over the age of 50 and women over 60 to take statins, if prescribed by their health care provider, as a precaution to decrease risk of heart attacks and strokes. Health experts said they expect the number of people who take statins to increase from seven million to 12 million.