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Your Healthy Family: Study Sheds New Light on Statin-Associated Symptoms

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Study Sheds New Light on Statin-Associated Symptoms

Statins are effective and reliable when it comes to regulating ‘bad’ cholesterol, but some people complain of muscle pain after taking the drugs. New research ed by Stephen Nissen, M.D., M.A.C.C., is aimed at providing more solutions for treating statin-intolerant patients. 

Determining true intolerance

According to Dr. Nissen, muscle-related statin intolerance symptoms can be frustrating for both patients and physicians.“These are often people that have very high levels of cholesterol that need to be lowered,” said Dr. Nissen. “Many of them already have coronary heart disease or other manifestations of high cholesterol, and yet they can’t take the most effective drugs that we have available.” Researchers examined a group of almost 500 patients worldwide who had reported statin intolerance.  Patients received either a statin or a sugar pill and then switched after 10 weeks.  They found that 42 percent of patients actually produced symptoms from the statin and not the placebo.  Dr. Nissen said the study has important implications because researchers were able to show objective evidence of muscle-related statin-intolerance.

Options for treatment

The second portion of the trial involved testing two non-statin cholesterol lowering drugs for those patients who were truly statin-intolerant:

Ezetimibe – an oral drug that blocks absorption of cholesterol into the gastrointestinal tract

Evolocumab –an newer injectable drug

While both of the drugs were well tolerated, the newer injectable drug reduced LDL cholesterol by more than 50 percent, while the oral drug lowered it by about 16 percent.  Dr. Nissen said the study will hopefully give physicians more options to work with when treating patients with high cholesterol. “We learned that about forty percent of people with a long history of intolerance to statins really are intolerant to the drugs and that if you then give those patients evolocumab, this new injectable cholesterol-lowering drug, you can lower their LDL cholesterol by over fifty percent.”

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