Review Shows Statins Safe, Effective
Risks of Side Effects Very Low for Most Patients
Best-Selling Drugs continued...
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 WebMD.
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 published studies.
“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 stroke.”
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 safety profile.
“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.