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Strength of statins is tied to incidence of muscular side effects

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

Cholesterol tests can help individuals figure out whether they need to make lifestyle adjustments or take medications in order to improve their cardiovascular health. This includes prescriptions for cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as statins.

Experts have estimated that up to 15 percent of patients who take statins develop muscular side effects, such as pain or weakness. Now, researchers from the University of California, San Diego have found that the incidence of these complications may depend on the potency of these drugs.

This conclusion is based on a review of more than 147,000 reports detailing patients' experiences of muscular side effects while taking statins, collected from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Adverse Event Reporting System.

Results showed that the stronger that statins were, the higher the rates of muscular problems.

"These findings underscore that stronger statins bear higher risk - and should be used with greater caution and circumspection," said investigator Beatrice Golomb, M.D., Ph.D.

This research, published in the journal PLoS ONE, is relevant to people who undergo cholesterol tests. Those who have abnormally high levels of cholesterol may want to discuss all of their treatment options with their healthcare providers.

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