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Statins Safe, Effective in Reducing Cholesterol

Statins are safe and have been proven successful in treating cardiovascular disease, according to a new study to be published in an upcoming issue of the Lancet.

The cholesterol-lowering drug is also well tolerated, according to a review of research published between 1985 and 2006 on the safety, efficacy and side effects of statins.

Based on the review, the study’s author, Dr. Jane Armitage, of University of Oxford, said in a statement that statins are “remarkably” safe.

“Since statins were first approved in 1987, their ability to reduce the risks of vascular death, non-fatal myocardial infarction, stroke, and the need for arterial revascularisation has been shown by several large, high-quality randomized trials,” said Armitage, who works in Oxford’s Clinical Trial Service and Epidemiological Studies units.

At standard daily doses, which vary according to type, statins typically reduce LDL cholesterol in the blood by 30 to 45 percent, the review said. Six statins are available in most parts of the world: lovastatin, simvastatin, pravastatin, .uvastatin, atorvastatin, and rosuvastatin.

The review alsoshowed that adverse effects from some statins on muscle, such as myopathy (pain/weakness) and rhabdomyolosis (breakdown of muscle), are rare at standard doses.

Myopathy occurs in fewer than one in 10,000 patients at standard doses. Adverse side effects on the liver are also rare, the research concluded.

Also examined was the safety of statins in vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, patients who consume excess alcohol or are on warfarin. There was no evidence to suggest people consuming excess alcohol are at greater risk of side effects from statin use and that no adjustment of dosage is needed for the elderly, since people up to age 80 were recruited in the various trials.

But researchers said not enough research has been done on warfarin users and noted that this group may need to adjust the amounts of warfarin they take when using a statin treatment.