Statins Are Not a Common Cause of Muscle Pain, Study Says

Statins rarely cause muscle pain, authors of the world’s largest study of their risks have concluded.

The tablets are a commonly prescribed type of lipid-lowering medication protecting against conditions such as strokes and heart attacks and lowering the risk of illness and mortality, but there have been concerns in recent years over whether the drug causes muscle pain.

In the UK, around 8 million people are prescribed statins, making them one of the most prescribed medications in the country.

However, findings presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Barcelona and published in the Lancet in effect quashes the often suggested idea that statins may cause joint pain.

Approximately 155,000 people took part in 23 trials evaluating the treatment and potential side effects.

Muscle pain and weakness was reported by many of the participants in despite of whether they were administered or not administered with the tablet. Some participants were instead given a placebo for researchers to use as a comparison.

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Data shows that around one in four within both groups taking statins and placebos reported muscle issues and there was a 7% chance that the muscle pain was caused by the medication. Findings also suggested that the minor increased risk of muscle symptoms was mostly detected within the first year of treatment and after the first year, there were not any major differences.

‘Statins Are Safe’

Prof Colin Baigent, the director of the Medical Research Council’s population health research unit at the University of Oxford, and joint lead author of the study, said: “The idea that statins may cause frequent muscle pain has been a persistent belief among some patients and clinicians. However, our study confirms that the statin is rarely the cause of muscle pain in those taking statins.

“These findings suggest that if a patient on statins reports muscle pain, then it should first be assumed that the symptoms are not due to the statin and are most likely due to other causes.” The report suggests that the age of the patients, rather than the use of statins, is more likely to account for symptoms of muscle pain.

Prof Sir Nilesh Samani, the medical director at the British Heart Foundation, which co-funded the study, said: “This accumulation of data from many clinical trials provides a clear picture that while statins are associated with a small increase in risk of muscle pains or weakness, they do not cause the majority of muscle pain symptoms commonly associated with them.

“It reinforces the evidence that statins are safe, which should provide reassurance to the many people taking, or considering taking, these life-saving drugs that have been proven to protect against heart attacks and strokes.”

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