osteoporosis in patients taking statins

A recent study on over 7 million medical records found a dose-dependent correlation between statins and osteoporosis diagnosis.

Statins are a class of cholesterol-lowering medications prescribed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disorders. Statins act by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase, which is the main enzyme involved in cholesterol biosynthesis, thus effectively lowering LDL cholesterol in blood circulation.

Osteoporosis is a disease of bone weakness, triggered by imbalanced bone metabolism and associated with increased risk of fractures, affecting a patient’s quality of life and imposing an economical burden. Previous studies have shown a protective effect on osteoporosis onset in the statin-treated population, however, these studies did not take into consideration the different statin types and dosages.

A recent study was designed to systematically analyze over 7 million medical records to search for a possible correlation between different statins, at different dosages and osteoporosis diagnosis.

The total dataset, derived from Austrian medical records, included 7, 897, 449 patients (male=3 702 572; female=4 194 877), which provided information on medical diagnoses and prescribed medications from 2006-2007. All patients treated with statins were classified based on six different types of statins and assigned dosages.

The study found a protective effect of low-dose statin treatment (0–10 mg per day) on risk of osteoporosis as compared to patients without statin therapy, with a clear increase in osteoporosis diagnosis at high statin dosage at 40 mg threshold for simvastatin and 20 mg for atorvastatin and for rosuvastatin.

The researchers concluded that there is a dose-related correlation between statin therapy and the risk of osteoporosis. With such results, the authors suggest that a patient at high risk of developing osteoporosis (e.g., women at menopausal age receiving statins) should be carefully monitored for bone metabolism and treated accordingly.


Written by Bella Groisman



  1. Leutner, C. Matzhold, L. Bellach, C. Deischinger, J. Harreiter, S. Thurner, P. Klimek, A. Kautzky-Willer, Diagnosis of osteoporosis in statin-treated patients is dose-dependent, Ann Rheum Dis, Epub ahead of print: 26 September 2019
  1. News release: Statins could increase or decrease osteoporosis risk — the dosage makes the difference. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-09/cshv-sci092719.php


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