Treating statin-intolerant patients
Marcello Arca, Giovanni Pigna
Atherosclerosis Unit, Department of Internal Medicine and Allied Medical Specialities, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy
Abstract: Statins are effective in reducing cardiovascular events and are safe for almost all patients. Nevertheless, intolerance to statins is frequently faced in clinical practice. This is mostly due to muscular symptoms (myalgia with or without increase of plasma creatinine kinase) and/or elevation of hepatic aminotransferases, which overall constitutes approximately two-thirds of reported adverse events during statin therapy. These side effects raise concerns in patients as well as in doctors and are likely to reduce patients' adherence and, as a consequence, the cardiovascular benefit. Therefore, it is mandatory that clinicians improve their knowledge on the clinical aspects of muscular and hepatic side effects of statin therapy as well as their ability to manage patients with statin intolerance. Besides briefly examining the clinical aspects and the mechanisms that are proposed to be responsible for the most common statin-associated side effects, the main purpose of this article is to review the available approaches to manage statin-intolerant patients. The first step is to determine whether the adverse events are indeed related to statin therapy. If so, lowering the dosage or changing statin, alternate dosing options, or the use of nonstatin compounds may be practical strategies. The cholesterol-lowering potency as well as the usefulness of these different approaches in treating statin-intolerant patients will be examined based on currently available data. However, the cardiovascular benefit of these strategies has not been well established, so their use has to be guided by a careful clinical assessment of each patient.
Keywords: statin therapy, atorvastatin, rosuvastatin, aminotransferase levels, myopathy
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