Study Finds Increased Musculoskeletal Problems in Statin Users

Dangerous drug lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report of a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine suggesting that people who take statins are more likely to develop musculoskeletal problems.

Statins are a class of cholesterol-lowering drugs that inhibit enzymes that are central to the production of cholesterol in the liver. Well-known drugs such as Lipitor, Crestor, Zocor, and Mevacor are all statins, though lower cost generic versions of these drugs are available as well. According to the Mayo Clinic, statins have many potential benefits, however, doctors are far from knowing everything about these drugs.

The Mayo Clinic also mentions muscle and joint aches as the most common side effect of statins. As with any medication, the higher dose of statin you take (doses range from five to 80 mgs), the more likely you are to have musculoskeletal pains. In very severe cases, muscle cells can break down and release a harmful protein in the bloodstream, damaging the kidneys. Certain drugs, such as Lopid, Niacor, and Restasis, increase the risk of this muscle break down.

In the recent study, researchers analyzed data from nearly 7,000 statin users along with an equal number of nonusers who were also active-duty soldiers, veterans or families from the San Antonio Military Area. Researchers found that the statin users were more likely to have musculoskeletal problems, including dislocation, strains, or sprains, musculoskeletal disease, and osteoarthritis or arthropathy.

The study’s authors calculated that musculoskeletal disease occurred in about one of every 40-60 statin users. These results illuminate exactly what the Mayo Clinic pointed out: that the full spectrum of statin adverse effects has not yet been fully explored, studied, or disclosed to patients. The study authors call for additional research on the topic to provide more complete data for the benefits and effectiveness of statin use.

This study comes in the wake of a much smaller study which focused on the effects statins have on the beneficial effects of exercise. The latter study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and was a hot-button topic upon its release in late May 2013.

Researchers recruited nearly 40 previously sedentary obese or overweight adults to undergo 12 weeks of aerobic exercise, while randomly selecting nearly 20 patients to also receive a statin (40 mgs of simvastatin per day). Simvastatin is the generic for Zocor.

By the end of the study, cardiorespiratory fitness – measured by maximal oxygen uptake – increased significantly in the control group (about ten percent) while only menially (about 1.5%) in the simvastatin group. Additionally, the control group enjoyed a 13% increase in skeletal muscle activity, while the simvastatin group had a 4.5% decrease.

The study suggests that statin use may lessen the benefits of aerobic exercise by impairing increases in skeletal muscle content and function. The problems with this phenomenon are in the underlying cause of taking statins in the first place. Patients are prescribed to these drugs because they have high LDL cholesterol, which can actually be combated (without pharmaceuticals) through improved diet and exercise.

We recently reported that the FDA added new safety warnings for statins drugs to include the risk of developing Type II diabetes as well as adverse brain-related effects. Lawsuits have also been filed against statin manufacturers alleging the companies failed to warn about the risk of life-threatening kidney and muscle damage. These new warnings were based on adverse event report and clinical trial findings submitted to the FDA.

Statin lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm will continue to report on relevant pharmaceutical studies, safety alerts, and recalls. If you or a loved one was seriously injured by a statin, you may be entitled to significant compensation for past and future medical bills, lost wages, and emotional distress.

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