- What statins are and how they work
- The likelihood of side effects occuring
- Why statins makes the headlines – for all the wrong reasons
- What advice pharmacists should give patients concerned about their statin medication.
Newspaper headlines about statins use – contesting their benefits and describing side effects which “rarely” occur – must not deter patients, the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) medical director has warned.
“It is always right to question drug use, especially commonly used drugs like statins, but we also would not want the wrong people to stop taking them,” Professor Nilesh Samani told C+D in an exclusive podcast interview last week.
An article published in the BMJ in June suggested that “intense” media coverage of the side effects of statins in 2013-14 led to an increase in the number of patients stripping their treatment.
Much of the “disappointing” press coverage around statins – which are primarily used to lower the level of cholesterol in the blood – has been based on “observational evidence”, describing side effects such as muscle ache, headaches and diarrhoea, Professor Samani said.
However, the “strongest evidence” available on the benefits of statins for patients who have had a heart attack or have heart disease, is collected from “randomised clinical trials” he said.
This “powerful” data shows that there “isn’t a high prevalence of side effects with statins”, he stressed.
“There is no question that statins are part of the armoury that we have to fight against heart disease,” Professor Samani added.