HealthDay News — Statins are associated with a low risk for side effects, according to a scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA) published online Dec. 10 in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.

Connie B. Newman, M.D., from the New York University School of Medicine in New York City, and colleagues provide a comprehensive review of statin safety and tolerability using data from randomized clinical trials and observational data.

The authors note that the risks for statin-induced serious muscle injury and serious hepatotoxicity are <0.1 percent and about 0.001 percent, respectively; the risk for statin-induced newly diagnosed diabetes mellitus is about 0.2 percent per year of treatment. 

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Statins possibly increase the risk for hemorrhagic stroke in patients with cerebrovascular disease; however, the reductions in the risk for atherothrombotic stroke, total stroke, and other cardiovascular events are greater. No convincing evidence was seen for a causal relationship between statins and cancer, cataracts, cognitive dysfunction, peripheral neuropathy, erectile dysfunction, or tendonitis. About 10 percent of patients in U.S. clinical practices stop taking a statin because of subjective complaints, most often muscle symptoms. In randomized clinical trials, the difference in the incidence of muscle symptoms in statin-treated compared with placebo-treated participants is less than 1 percent.

“In the patient population in whom statins are recommended by current guidelines, the benefit of reducing cardiovascular risk with statin therapy far outweighs any safety concerns,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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