Most of the harmful side effects associated with statins are on the mind, doctors insist.
One in four adults in the UK takes cholesterol-lowering medication every day to prevent a future stroke or heart attack.
Up to half of patients stop prescription drugs or use them infrequently due to side effects such as muscle aches, trouble sleeping, and headaches.
But a group of cardiologists estimate that up to 70% of symptoms are actually caused by the ‘nocebo’ effect.
Professor Maciej Banach, from the Medical University of Lodz in Poland, and his team came up with the estimate after reviewing 170 studies involving 4 million people.
A phenomenon that occurs when someone is faced with an unpleasant side effect from a drug just because they expected it.
It was the opposite of a placebo in people who felt better after being given a dummy drug.
Writing in an editorial published in a scientific journal today, Professor Banach said: The ‘nocebo/drucebo effect’ is when patients expect that they will experience a side effect from the statin that causes them to actually experience it. these symptoms.
Statins (pictured) work by limiting the production of ‘bad cholesterol’ – low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – which can harden and narrow the arteries and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease
‘Their knowledge was obtained from the internet, leaflets, friends and family and other sources, and the most common side effects were muscle pain and liver complaints.
‘It can lead to them having to stop treatment and, therefore, increase their risk of heart disease, stroke and death.’
What are the common side effects of statins?
Most of the millions of people who take statins experience no side effects.
But about one in 100 people can say they experience these things.
The most common side effects are:
- Feel sick;
- Feeling unusually tired or physically weak;
- Digestive system problems;
- Muscle pain;
- Sleep problems;
- Low platelet count in the blood.
There are also some less common side effects that affect one in 1,000 people. That is:
- Being sick;
- Memory problems;
- Hair loss;
- Pins and needles;
- Hepatitis, which can cause flu-like symptoms;
- Inflammation of the pancreas, which causes stomach pain;
- Achne or red and itchy rash;
- Loss of libido and erectile dysfunction.
Source: NHS England
Statins work by limiting the production of ‘bad cholesterol’ – low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – which can harden and narrow arteries and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Studies have repeatedly proven drugs that cost less than £5 a month can save lives.
Charities claim around 8 million Britons and 35 million Americans are prescribed medicines that need to be taken daily.
But doctors believe that tens of thousands of people die each year because they shun life-saving pills, often from side effects.
In today’s editorial, published in the Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia, and Muscle, a group of cardiologists made a series of recommendations for healthcare professionals prescribing the drug.
It advises in the first instance that the patient be continued treatment even if they begin to have mild symptoms.
It includes advice on how to effectively diagnose statin intolerance and rule out the nocebo effect by checking for common problems such as statin-associated muscle symptoms (SAMS).
Co-author of the paper, Dr Peter Penson, from Liverpool John Moores University said: ‘This is the first paper to explicitly address the nocebo/drucebo effect.
‘It offers practical and evidence-based suggestions that we hope will be of use to doctors in improving patient-centered care in people at risk for cardiovascular disease but experience side effects from their medication.
‘We hope this document will facilitate joint decision-making between patients and prescribers. The recommendations acknowledge that the vast majority of patients can safely take statins and that the benefits far outweigh the possible risks of side effects. ‘
Cardiologists base their recommendations on a meta-analysis of 170 studies.
In one study they referenced, 60 patients who had stopped taking statins were asked to resume their medication, placebo, or no treatment monthly in random order.
Severity of symptoms was similar in the statin and placebo periods.
But basically it was significantly lower when someone was not getting treatment. It found that half of the patients had restarted statin therapy after the intervention.
Source: | This article originally belonged to Dailymail.co.uk