Are statins dangerous

CHD - long-term treatment with statins

What are statins?

Statins are drugs that lower a type of blood fat called LDL cholesterol. However, their benefits are not based solely on lowering cholesterol. Presumably they also protect the vessel walls because they work against inflammation.

Are Statins Effective?

Statins are used in CHD to prevent the consequences of the disease. These include heart attacks, with or without death. Many large studies have shown the effectiveness of statins. The results after 4 years of treatment can be roughly summarized as follows:

  • After 4 years, about 901 out of 1,000 patients who regularly took a statin were alive. The number of patients taking a dummy drug was around 886.
  • That is, the statin prevented death in about 15 out of 1,000 people treated.
  • About 51 out of 1,000 had a non-fatal heart attack despite having a statin. With dummy medication it was 73.
  • The statin prevented a non-fatal heart attack in 22 out of 1,000 people treated.

What complications can arise?

Most people tolerate statins well. A few may experience muscle pain. How often this is the case also depends on the dose. Roughly 10 to 50 out of 1,000 were affected in studies, but: When people were given a dummy drug, muscle problems were just as common. This suggests that the statin is often not causing the pain. Serious complications are rare: in about 1 in 10,000 people.

What to do if I cannot tolerate the statin after all?

The doctor will offer you another statin or reduce the dose. Then the pain often subsides or stops. You can slowly increase the dose again as long as you are handling it well. Experts rate the treatment as very effective. Therefore, you should try to continue with these measures. Get medical advice immediately if you experience severe muscle pain, muscle weakness, general malaise and dark urine. This can be an indication of a very rare, dangerous complication.

Fact box: statins

Use

Deaths occurred in 1,000 people treated after 4 years

with statin:

with dummy medication:

99

114

Out of 1,000 people treated had a non-fatal heart attack after 4 years

with statin:

with dummy medication:

51

73

damage

Out of 1,000 people treated had muscle pain

with statin:

with dummy medication:

10-50

10-50

In many studies, patients on dummy drugs report muscle pain as often as they do on statins. There are reasons to believe that high-dose statin treatment may lead to muscle discomfort slightly more often.

Of 1,000 people treated, they were diagnosed with diabetes within 4 years

with statin:

with dummy medication:

47

43

Benefits and harm at a glance

Use

Prevented Deaths:

15 per 1,000 people treated

Prevented Non-Fatal Heart Attacks:

22 per 1,000 people treated

damage

Additional muscle pain from statin:

not clear

Additional diabetes diagnoses from statin:

4 per 1,000 people treated

Additional severe muscle disease from statin *:

* disappears after stopping the statin

0.1 per 1,000 treated (1 per 10,000 treated)

January 2019, published by the German Medical Association and the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians