Review Shows Statins Safe, Effective
Risks of Side Effects Very Low for Most Patients
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Treatment with statins is known to raise levels of potentially problematic
liver enzymes in some patients, but that has not been clearly linked with liver
failure, American Heart Association spokesman Gerald Fletcher, MD, tells
A preventive cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., Fletcher
was among a group of cardiovascular disease experts who conducted a separate
review of the research assessing statin safety, published two months ago in the
American Journal of Cardiology.
Like Armitage, Fletcher’s group found little evidence of risk in the
“The side effects and complications with these drugs are so rare, they are
miniscule,” he says. “But the potential benefits are great for people with any
kind of vascular disease, whether or not they have had a heart attack or
Armitage concedes that not all of the safety questions regarding statins
have been answered.
Though her review found little evidence of problems in groups considered to
have the highest risk for side effects, including the elderly and alcoholics,
she acknowledges that these people are often excluded from clinical trials.
She adds that there is also not enough long-term safety data on newer
cholesterol-lowering drugs like AstraZeneca’s Crestor to fully understand their
“With a few caveats, and while awaiting good-quality randomized data for the
newer drugs, statins seem to be a remarkably safe group of drugs when used at
their usual doses,” she writes.