Statins Still Likely the Best Choice

Statins Still Likely the Best Choice

A new cholesterol-lowering drug was recently reported to further reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke for those already taking statins, a class of lipid-lowering medications found to reduce cardiovascular disease and mortality in those who are at high risk.

This past May, Amgen, an American multinational biopharmaceutical company, announced new data from the Repatha (evolocumab) cardiovascular outcomes trial which showed that Repatha consistently and safely reduced cardiovascular events in patients with established cardiovascular disease regardless of baseline low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. The company also reported a separate analysis demonstrated Repatha reduced cardiovascular events in patients being treated with maximum-intensity statin therapy.

“We now have additional evidence for the benefit of evolocumab in reducing cardiovascular event risk, even in patients starting with LDL-C levels below the most aggressive current guideline targets and in patients already on maximum-intensity statin therapy,” said Marc S. Sabatine, M.D., M.P.H., chairman of the TIMI Study Group, the Lewis Dexter, MD, Distinguished Chair in Cardiovascular Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston.

But other medical experts disagreed with the study, which was hailed as a “game changer” and “better than statins.” Dr. John Abramson, an authority in healthcare at Harvard Medical School, said: “In terms of the effect of these drugs, there is no evidence on data that there is benefit in people at high risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Statins are some of the most widely prescribed medications in the world. They’re commonly prescribed for people who have high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol and can reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and help prevent heart attack and stroke. For patients who already have cardiovascular disease, statins may help keep the condition from getting worse and may also help increase levels of healthy, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or “good” cholesterol, and improve the health of arteries.

Most people who take statins have no noticeable adverse side effects. But side effects can happen, especially if you have certain risk factors. Many of these effects are the same for all statins. Here’s what to know.

Common side effects of all statins

Side effects reported by some people include muscle pain and digestive problems.

Muscle pain is the most common side effect caused by statin use. One study found that over 10 percent of people taking high-dose statins had muscle pain. Muscle pain can be uncomfortable. However, you should call your doctor right away if you have:

  • Unusual muscle pain or cramps
  • Tiredness
  • Fever
  • Dark urine
  • Diarrhea

These could be symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a dangerous muscle condition that can cause kidney problems.

Health-e reporting with sources: Amgem; Telegraph; Healthline
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