How Do Statins Work?
What Are the Health Benefits?
- Heart attack and death in people with heart disease with or without high cholesterol
- Cardiovascular events and death in people who are at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease
- Heart attack, stroke, and death in people with elevated levels of C-reactive protein, a sign of inflammation in the body
- Cardiovascular events in women who have cardiovascular disease
- Surgery to improve blood flow to the heart and unstable angina in women
What Are the Risks?
- Muscle or joint pain
- Nausea or diarrhea
- Sleep problems
- Itchy skin
- Memory loss and confusion
- Increased blood sugar levels
- Liver damage—Taking statins can lead to changes in liver enzymes and occasionally liver damage.
- Muscle pain or weakness—Some people who take statins develop muscle damage. With severe cases, your body may release the protein myoglobin, which can damage the kidneys.
- Cancer—There have been numerous scientific studies about the use of statins and the risk of cancer, but the evidence is conflicting.
American Heart Association http://www.heart.org
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada http://www.heartandstroke.ca
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Baigent C, Keech A, Kearney PM, et al. Cholesterol Treatment Trialists' (CTT) Collaborators. Efficacy and safety of cholesterol-lowering treatment: prospective meta-analysis of data from 90,056 participants in 14 randomised trials of statins. Lancet. 2005;366:1267-1278.
Coronary artery disease (CAD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 13, 2015. Accessed March 26, 2015.
Douglas K, O'Malley PG, Jackson JL. Meta-analysis: the effect of statins on albuminuria. Ann Intern Med. 2006; 145:117.
Friis S, Poulsen AH, Johnsen SP, et al. Cancer risk among statin users: a population-based cohort study. Int J Cancer. 2005; 114:643.
Graaf MR, Beiderbeck AB, Egberts AC, et al. The risk of cancer in users of statins. J Clin Oncol. 2004; 22:2388.
Ichihara A, Hayashi M, Ryuzaki M, et al. Fluvastatin prevents development of arterial stiffness in haemodialysis patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2002; 17:1513.
Jick H, Zomberg GL, Jick SS, et al. Statins and the risk of dementia. Lancet. 2000;356:1627-1631.
Kshirsagar AV, Shoham DA, Bang H, et al. The effect of cholesterol reduction with cholestyramine on renal function. Am J Kidney Dis. 2005; 46:812.
Statins. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 4, 2015. Accessed March 26, 2015.
Statins and cancer risk. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 13, 2014. Accessed March 26, 2015.
Statins for prevention of cardiovascular disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 18, 2014. Accessed March 26, 2015.
Wolozin B, Kellman W, Rousseau P, et al. Decreased prevalence of Alzheimer's disease associated with 3-hydroxy-3-methyglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors. Arch Neurol. 2000;57:1439-1443.
1/30/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Mills EJ, Rachlis B, Wu P, Devereaux PJ, Arora P, Perri D. Primary prevention of cardiovascular mortality and events with statin treatments: a network meta-analysis involving more than 65,000 patients. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2008;52:1769-1781.
3/6/2012 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: FDA announces safety changes in labeling for some cholesterol-lowering drugs. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm293623.htm. Published February 28, 2012. Accessed March 26, 2015.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 03/2015 -
- Update Date: 03/26/2015 -