CORVALLIS, Ore. A new study has found that many people who stopped taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs were also taking an average of three other drugs that interfered with the normal metabolism of the statins.
The other drugs can contribute to a common side effect of taking statins - muscle pain and often led people to discontinue use of a medication that could otherwise help save their life, researchers learned.
The interactions of many drugs with statins have been known of for some time, researchers said, but are not being adequately managed by physicians and pharmacists, who could often choose different medications or adjust dosages to retain the value of statin drugs without causing this side effect.
The research, done as part of a survey of more than 10,000 current and former statin users, found that use of medications which interfere with statin metabolism almost doubles the chance that a person will discontinue statin use due to muscle pain.
The issue is of growing importance because statin drugs are some of the most widely used medications in the world, proven to lower LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, and decrease the risk of heart attacks, heart disease, strokes and death. About 20 million people in the U.S. now take statins, and new guidelines have just been issued to further expand the types of health conditions for which statins may be of benefit. Based on those guidelines, the number of statin users could increase to more than 30 million.
The findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology by scientists from Oregon State University and four other universities or research institutes.
"We've known for some time of many medications that can interact with statins, but only now is it becoming clear that this is a significant contributor to the side effects, and often the reason some patients stop taking statins," said Matt Ito, a professor in the OSU College of Pharmacy and pre
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Oregon State University