Study: High-Dose Statins Linked to Acute Kidney Injury


A recent BMJ article reviewed the connection between statin medications and kidney damage.

The just-published article reviewed data from over 2 million patient records dated from 1997 to 2008, said the Drug Safety Monitor. Records originated from Canadian provinces and United States and United Kingdom databases and the study involved the statins Zocor, Lipitor and Crestor.

The researchers discovered that patients with no prior kidney disease diagnosis who were taking a high-dose statin were 34 percent likelier to be hospitalized with acute kidney injury within 120 days of initial treatment when compared to patients taking a low-dose statin. A high-potency statin was defined as being at least 40 miiligrams (mg) of simvastatin, such as Zocor; at least 20 mg aorvastatin, such as Lipitor; or at least 10 mg rosuvastatin, such as Crestor, said the Drug Safety Monitor.

The team concluded that patients prescribed high-potency statins, such as Zocor, Lipitor, and Crestor, exhibited an increased risk for hospitalization for acute kidney injury when compared to those patients taking lower-potency statins, according to the Drug Safety Monitor. The researchers urged physicians to consider this risk when thinking about patient treatment options in those patients whose kidney injury risks persisted for at least two years.

FAERS data from 1997 to 2012 collected, aggregated, and standardized by the AdverseEvent RxFilter process revealed 20 adverse events. Those events listed Crestor, Lipitor, Zocor—or their generics—as being associated with severe kidney injury; 1,477 cases listed these statins as the primary suspect associated with acute renal failure, said the Drug Safety Monitor.

This is not the first time that statins have been associated with adverse events. We previously wrote that people who use statins to lower their cholesterol may face a higher risk of developing age-related cataracts. According to the study, the association between statins and cataracts may be equal to the association with Type 2 diabetes, a known risk factor for age-relegated cataracts. That’s significant, because statin use is generally higher among Type 2 diabetics, compared to the general population.

Prior to that, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) warned that statins not only raise blood sugar levels, but they may cause memory loss, as well. Statin labels were updated to include information about these possible statin side effects.

Statins, which are used to lower blood cholesterol levels, rank among the best selling drugs in the world and are typically prescribed to reduce cholesterol as a means of preventing blood clots, heart attack, and stroke that could lead to death. Drugs in the statin class are known to carry a risk of causing myopathy (severe muscle damage) and should be taken with caution and at the lowest possible effective dose to reduce the risks of these side effects

Other analysis of previously conducted clinical trials also cast doubt on the efficacy of statin drugs, specifically Crestor (rosuvastatin), in the prevention of blood clots. According to a prior ScienceDaily report, nearly 30 previous trials of statin drugs found that they are barely effective at preventing blood clots, if at all.

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