Adverse effects of statin therapy: real evidence


Aim. To provide a current view on the tolerability and safety of statin therapy. Materials and methods. The data of 73 scientific sources from Russian and foreign literature published within 1996-2018 are considered. Results. It is generally accepted that statins are first-line therapeutic agents for hypercholesterolemia and combined hyperlipidemia. Today there in growing evidence that lowering of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels prevents atherosclerotic diseases and reduces a risk of cardiovascular and overall mortality. Main issues of current statin therapy include a use of inadequate dosage for atherosclerotic diseases prevention, low treatment compliance and drug intolerance. In recent years the issue of statin intolerance has become of great importance. Criteria were proposed for determining an inability to tolerate statins, some experts suggest replacing definition of “statin intolerance” with the term “statin-associated side-effects”. Most discussed adverse effects due to statins include muscle-related symptoms (myalgia/myopathy), hepatotoxicity (hepatic hyperenzymemia) new-onset diabetes, dementia and cognitive impairment. Mechanisms of development of these adverse effects are still unclear. Certain factors and conditions capable of triggering some adverse effects as well as absolute contraindications to statin therapy were established. Some factors and conditions capable of triggering some adverse effects as well as absolute contraindications to statin therapy were identified. Occurrence of statin-associated side-effects depends on statin dose, a patient's age, gender, comorbidity and concomitant therapy. Many adverse effects of statins are drug class effect. At the same time each of statins has specific features of its structure, metabolism, drug interactions and pharmacokinetics. Pitavastatin belongs to the last generation of statins and it has distinct pharmacological features and neutral diabetogenic effects, etc. Risk of adverse effects due to statins is often exaggerated while benefit from the use of statins for preventing atherosclerotic diseases outweighs potential risks. Real occurrence of some adverse effects due to statin therapy requires additional evidence. Conclusion. Overall, statins have a good tolerability profile and are approved for use in the vast majority of patients who required lipid-lowering therapy.

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About the authors

Marina G. Bubnova

National Medical Research Center for Preventive Medicine of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation

10, 3, Petroverigskii ln., Moscow, 101990, Russian Federation
D. Sci. (Med.), Head of the Department of Rehabilitation and Secondary Prevention of Combined Pathology with a Laboratory Prevention of Atherosclerosis and Thrombosis


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