Another Hit for Statins: Linked to Muscle Weakness,
Cramps, Joint Disease, Injury
Growing list of problems for this life-saving drug
that lowers heart disease
By Tucker Sutherland,
June 3, 2013 – Most agree that statin drugs
effectively lower cardiovascular illnesses but there is growing evidence
that more problems are associated with these drugs that had been
assumed. The latest report published Online First by JAMA Internal
Medicine links statins with musculoskeletal problems, joint diseases and
This is a complain heard frequently among senior
citizens, particularly the most active of those taking statins.
Increasing numbers of seniors are blaming their physical problems on
their statin use. See sidebar for links of other recent reports of
problems associated with statins.
“To our knowledge, this is the first study, using
propensity score matching, to show that statin use is associated with an
increased likelihood of diagnoses of musculoskeletal conditions,
arthropathies and injuries,” write the researchers.
“In our primary analysis, we did not find a
statistically significant association between statin use and arthropathy;
however, this association was statistically significant in all other
analyses,” the authors conclude.
“These findings are concerning because starting
statin therapy at a young age for primary prevention of cardiovascular
diseases has been widely advocated.”
While statins have proven to lower death from
cardiovascular illnesses, the full spectrum of statin musculoskeletal
adverse events (AEs) had not previously been clear, say the researchers.
They specifically looked at statin-associated musculoskeletal AEs
including a wide variety of clinical presentations, including muscle
weakness, muscle cramps and tendinous (tendon) diseases.
Ishak Mansi, M.D., of the VA North Texas Health
Care System, Dallas, and colleagues utilized data from a military health
care system to determine whether statins were associated with
musculoskeletal conditions based on statin use during the 2005 fiscal
Patients were divided into two groups: statin users
for at least 90 days and nonusers. A total of 46,249 patients met the
study criteria and of those, researchers propensity score-matched (a
statistical approach that mathematically matches the characteristics of
patients in two or more groups) 6,967 statin users with 6,967 nonusers.
“Musculoskeletal conditions, arthropathies,
injuries and pain are more common among statin users than among similar
nonusers. The full spectrum of statins’ musculoskeletal adverse events
may not be fully explored, and further studies are warranted, especially
in physically active individuals,” the authors note.
Statin users had a higher odds ratio (OR) for
musculoskeletal disease diagnosis group 1 (all musculoskeletal diseases:
OR, 1.19), for musculoskeletal disease diagnosis group 1b
(dislocation/strain/sprain: OR, 1.13) and for musculoskeletal diagnosis
group 2 (musculoskeletal pain: OR, 1.09), but not for musculoskeletal
disease diagnosis group 1a (osteoarthritis/arthropathy: OR,1.07),
according to study results for the propensity score-matched pairs.
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