Statins are drugs that are widely prescribed and known to be effective as a treatment for high cholesterol.
However, for years, there has been some debate over whether statin therapy can cause muscle pain and/or muscle weakness.
â€œThese 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. Statin therapy should continue until other potential causes have been explored,â€ Baigent said.
The researchers looked at data from about 155,000 people from 23 trials of statin therapy.
Each trial had more than 1,000 participants and a follow-up time of more than two years.
The â€˜Nocebo Effectâ€™
Dr. Lori B. Daniels, a cardiologist and director of the cardiovascular intensive care unit at UC San Diego Health, told ishonest, â€œThere has been so much on social media, in the news, and ineveryday discourse about statinsâ€™ potential to cause muscle aches, that many people believe this to be true.â€
â€œTaking a placebo, or an inactive â€˜sugar pill,â€™ can actually improve symptoms and make people feel better. But with something called the â€˜nocebo effect,â€™ a negative outcome occurs from an inactive pill due to a belief that the pill will cause harm,â€ she explained.
Listening to patients
Dr. Elizabeth Klodas, the founding editor-in-chief of the patient education effort of the American College of Cardiology known as cardiosmart.org, said she thinks statin studies like this one â€œare insulting to patients.â€
Klodas, who created her own line of healthy foods for heart patients as an alternative to statins and other drugs, says that physicians should respect what their patients are saying, even if they believe it involves the nocebo effect.
â€œThe patient tells you that they ache, and yet they keep on taking the drug. I think regardless of whether or not is a placebo, physicians should respect what their patients are experiencing,â€ she told ishonest.
Klodas is not against statins. She prescribes them frequently when she believes they are the best option for the patient.
But the problem Klodas has with this study, she said, is that it includes only those who were enrolled in the long-term perspective.
â€œAll of those trials had periods in which patients were thrown out if they complained about the drug,â€ she said. â€œPeople who had issues early on were excluded, so you should expect there to be low levels of side effects.â€
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