Statins May Pose Risk For Dialysis Patients

Statins may pose a risk to dialysis patients, according to a new study released by a researcher with Oregon State University (OSU). Statins are popular cholesterol lowering drugs and include brands such as Levacor, Zocor, Pravachol, Lipitor, and <"">Crestor.

The new review involved an analysis of three large, “well-designed” studies, and was conducted by pharmacist Ali Olyaei, wrote Health News Digest. According to Olyaei, statins only provide a small amount of cholesterol control for kidney patients, while increasing their odds for “toxicity and adverse drug interactions,” with the elderly and diabetics suffering the greatest risk, said Olyaei, wrote Health News Digest. Olyaei is a professor in the OSU College of Pharmacy and at Oregon Health and Science University and specializes in renal and transplant medicine at the OSU/OHSU Division of Nephrology and Hypertension in Portland, said Health News Digest.

“Statins are the current drugs of choice for high cholesterol,” said Olyaei. “However, they should be used with caution for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in dialysis patients who are at great risk of toxicity and drug interactions,” Olyaei continued quoted Health News digest.

The three studies, combined, reviewed over 13,000 patients who spanned not only the United States, but 24 other countries, and looked at the safety and efficacy of the drug class for patients with chronic kidney disease, who had undergone an organ transplantation, and who were treated with dialysis, said Health News Digest. The studies revealed that patients undergoing dialysis experienced the same likelihood of dying from a heart attack, stroke, or other causes as those not taking statins, said Olyaei.

Some dialysis patients being treated with specific statins experienced even greater risks for fatal stroke versus some participants taking a placebo, noted Health News Digest. Olyaei wrote, in a guest editorial for the journal Dialysis & Transplantation, that these studies point to a “very limited role” for statins in preventing high cholesterol and heart disease for dialysis patients. “Therefore, three strikes and statins are out for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in dialysis patients,” quoted Health News Digest.

Disease and medication challenges should be considered noted Olyaei; for example, some drug guidelines call for a dosage reduction of 50 percent for some statins when used in patients in later kidney disease stages, wrote Health News Digest.

As we’ve written, statins have been shown to reduce heart attacks, strokes, and deaths in higher risk patients such as those with diabetes or established heart disease and are often prescribed for people with less than a 10 percent risk of having a heart attack in the next 10 years. But, statins do carry rare, serious, side effects, including the breakdown of muscle tissue, memory loss, and a nervous system malfunction called neuropathy.

Recently, authors of the Cochrane review questioned prescribing practices after finding little benefit in using statins to prevent heart disease in healthy populations. The publication also reported that there was insufficient evidence to support the use of statins in patients with no history of heart disease and pointed to problems with many prior trials, including selective reporting of outcomes and failure to report adverse events.

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