Half of statins' side effects could be in patients' heads, study claims

Half of statins' side effects could be in patients' heads, study claims

HALF of statins’ side effects could be in the patients’ heads, a study claims.

Millions of Brits are prescribed the cholesterol-busting pills but many stop taking them because of side effects.

But medics say issues are “over-diagnosed” and most might be felt because people expect them.

Professor Maciej Banach said: “We should evaluate whether it might be patients’ perceptions that statins are harmful – a so-called ‘nocebo’ or ‘drucebo’ effect – which could be responsible for more than 50 per cent of all symptoms, rather than the drug itself.”

His study found up to half of patients stop taking the drugs because they suffer effects such as muscle pain, stomach issues and headaches.

It included 4.1million patients from around the world and discovered only between six and nine per cent were genuinely intolerant to statins.

Other studies had suggested the figure could be as high as 50 per cent
Prof Banach, of the University of Lodz in Poland, added: “These results show that, in most cases, statin intolerance is overestimated and over-diagnosed.

“They mean that around 93 per cent of patients on statin therapy can be treated effectively, with very good tolerability and without any safety issues.”

The study, in the European Heart Journal, showed older people, black or Asian people, or those with other serious health conditions were more likely to be intolerant.

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Doctors should still take reports of side effects seriously but the benefits of statins outweigh the risks for most patients, it said.

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Decades of evidence have proven that statins save lives.

“This latest analysis should provide reassurance to those who are recommended this medicine to reduce their risk of a heart attack or stroke.

“Other studies have shown that side effects commonly attributed to statins are often not from the drug itself.”

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