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Statin Drugs to Aid Heart May Damage Muscle and Kidneys, Reports Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons

March 14, 2016

TUCSON, Ariz., March 14, 2016 Increasing numbers of Americans are being prescribed statin drugs to lower their risk of heart attack or stroke. But the risks of these drugs to muscles and kidneys may be greater than previously thought, write Duane Graveline, M.D., M.P.H., and Philip W. Blair, M.D., in the spring issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. http://www.jpands.org/vol21no1/graveline.pdf

The statin drug Baycol was recalled in 2004 because of 60 deaths fromrhabdomyolysis, a rapid breakdown of skeletal muscles frequently accompanied by kidney failure. Graveline and Blair calculate that between 2005 and 2011 there may have been nearly 2,000 deaths from rhabdomyolysis due to other statins, based on the FDA's MedWatch records.

Damage may be occurring even if the patient's CPK levels are normal, authors state. CPK (creatine phosphokinase) is the blood test doctors monitor to check for muscle damage. Although rhabdomyolysis is generally considered to be an acute crisis, there is a chronic progressive form as in the case report in the article.

Some 24 percent of Americans have a gene called SNIPS, which causes blood levels of statins to be much higher than expected, authors warn.

Statins are also associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, they note, and with more rapid deterioration in patients with chronic kidney disease.

Authors conclude that statin-associated muscle and kidney damage are both more common and more insidious than generally believed. The "collateral damage…is probably higher than most clinicians would consider acceptable," they write. Therefore they advocate restricting statin usage until more is known about these effects.

The Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons is published by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a national organization representing physicians in all specialties since 1943.


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