The safety of statins in clinical practice.
Statins are effective cholesterol-lowering drugs that reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease events (heart attacks, strokes, and the need for arterial revascularisation). Adverse effects from some statins on muscle, such as myopathy and rhabdomyolysis, are rare at standard doses, and on the liver, in increasing levels of transaminases, are unusual. Myopathy--muscle pain or weakness with blood creatine kinase levels more than ten times the upper limit of the normal range--typically occurs in fewer than one in 10,000 patients on standard statin doses. However, this risk varies between statins, and increases with use of higher doses and interacting drugs. Rhabdomyolysis is a rarer and more severe form of myopathy, with myoglobin release into the circulation and risk of renal failure. Stopping statin use reverses these side-effects, usually leading to a full recovery. Asymptomatic increases in concentrations of liver transaminases are recorded with all statins, but are not clearly associated with an increased risk of liver disease. For most people, statins are safe and well-tolerated, and their widespread use has the potential to have a major effect on the global burden of cardiovascular disease.