Benefits of statins far outweigh risks

After extensive review of the evidence, the American Heart Association (AHA) has issued a scientific statement confirming the cardiovascular benefits of statin therapy. The protection the cholesterol-lowering drugs offer against heart attack and stroke far exceed the risks they pose, including minor muscle aches and pains.

After extensive review of the evidence, the American Heart Association (AHA) has issued a scientific statement confirming the cardiovascular benefits of statin therapy. The protection the cholesterol-lowering drugs offer against heart attack and stroke far exceed the risks they pose, including minor muscle aches and pains. Severe liver damage can occur but is uncommon, according to the authors of the statement, although not as rare as rhabdomyolysis—the one condition that experts agree warrants immediate termination of statin use. Dark urine the color of coffee may be a sign of this complication, which can lead to acute kidney failure. Otherwise, however, AHA says patients who are worried about what they believe are adverse effects tied to statins should consult a physician before stopping the medication. While adverse effects may occur, even rare serious ones, Gregg Fonarow, MD, asks patients to consider what "adverse effect" might result from not taking statins. "It's a 25 to 50% increased risk of having a heart attack, a stroke or a premature cardiovascular death," says Fonarow, who teaches cardiovascular medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. He was not involved with the AHA statement, which will appear in Atherosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.