June 20, 2012

Customers Complaining About Low Energy?
Could Be Their Statin

San Diego, CAConsidering how many statin prescriptions you fill each day, a lot of people must be dragging.

A new study of more than 1,000 adults has found that statin users are more likely than nonusers to experience decreased energy, fatigue upon exertion, or both. The University of California-San Diego researchers suggest that side effect be taken into account when weighing the risks and benefits of prescribing the cholesterol-lowering drugs.

For the study, published recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine, more than 1,000 adults without heart disease or diabetes were randomly allocated to groups receiving either placebo, pravastatin (Pravachol) at 40 mg, or simvastatin (Zocor) at 20 mg, all in identical capsules. Those two statins were chosen as the most water-soluble and fat-soluble of the drug class; the dosages were expected to create similar LDL reductions. Equivalent doses would be 10 mg of atorvastatin (Lipitor) or 2.5 to 5-mg rosuvastatin (Crestor), the study said.

Using a five-point scale, ranging from “much worse” to “much better,” study participants were asked to rate their energy levels and levels of fatigue with exertion. Those in the statin groups were significantly more likely than those on placebo to report worsening in energy, fatigue-with-exertion, or both.

While both statins contributed to the results, simvastatin led both to greater cholesterol reduction and worsening energy levels and fatigue.

The effect was strongest in women, where 4 of 10 treated on simvastatin cited worsened energy or exertional fatigue; 2 in 10 cited worsening in both or rated either one as "much worse"; and 1 in 10 study participants rated energy and exertional fatigue as "much worse."

"Side effects of statins generally rise with increasing dose, and these doses were modest by current standards," explained Beatrice Golomb, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine. "Yet occurrence of this problem was not rare—even at these doses, and particularly in women."

Golomb expressed concern that lower energy levels could affect participation in exercise or even indicate that statins could be adversely affecting cell health.

The issue of fatigue and low energy levels should influence decisions to prescribe states, according to Golomb, especially for groups in which statins have little mortality benefit—such as most patients without heart disease, some women, and those over 70 or 75, even if heart disease is present.

U.S. Pharmacist Social Connect