Are statins the cause of your muscle pain? Study says unlikely

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Statins are medications that lower cholesterol levels in the blood, protecting against heart attack and stroke.

Like all medications, sometimes they cause side effects. These treatments have received negative media coverage because of possible adverse effects, such as muscle pain.

However, a large study of nearly 155,000 people concludes that statin therapies do not cause muscle pain in more than 90% of those who experience these symptoms.

Statins are an effective medication to lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of major cardiovascular problems like heart attack and stroke. While the pills are usually well-tolerated, some people may experience side effects, such as muscle pain.

A recent study suggests that statins are not the cause of muscle pain in 9 out of 10 people who experience these symptoms while taking the medication.

Researchers from Oxford Population Health published their study in The LancetTrusted Source and presented their findings at the European Society of Cardiology Congress.

The researchers analyzed data from about 155,000 individuals across 23 large-scale randomized clinical trials from the Cholesterol Treatment Trialists’ Collaboration. Each trial had a follow-up time of at least two years. A review of this kind, using data from multiple studies, is known as a meta-analysis. Using this large dataset, the researchers assessed the effect of statins on the frequency of muscle-related symptoms in people with various conditions.

Previous observational studies reported that 7%–29% of people taking statin therapy experienced statin-associated muscle symptoms.

This new research, however, shows that statin therapy only produced a 7% relative increase in muscle pain or weakness compared to placebo. This finding suggests that only around one in 15 of the muscle-related reports by patients receiving statins are caused by the statin.

Dr. Christina Reith, Senior Clinical Research Fellow at Oxford Population Health and joint lead author of the study, explained the research to Medical News Today.

“Statin therapies are a key tool in helping to prevent avoidable disability and death. Our research shows that, for most people taking a statin, any muscle-related symptoms they experience will not in fact be due to the statin itself – and so the potential benefits of statin therapy are likely to outweigh the muscle pain risks,” Dr. Reith said.

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