A recent meta-analysis by He and colleagues investigated the potential non-cardiovascular side effects of statins uses.
Statins are a group of blood cholesterol-lowering drugs used by patients that are at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke. While these drugs are associated with reduced CVD-related morbidity and mortality, their non-CVD side effects have not been thoroughly studied. Researchers reason that by studying the effects of statins beyond CVD, they will be able to identify any potential unknown side-effects on patient health, as well as any undiscovered benefits in other non-CVD complications.
To study the non-CVD effects of statins, He and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 256 studies that they identified from the MEDLINE and EMBASE databases. Of the studies they included, 144 of the articles were randomized controlled trials, while the remaining 112 were observational studies investigating the effects of statins on 278 non-CVD conditions. They published their results in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
In summary, the study found some association between statins uses and other complications, including cancer, chronic kidney disease (CKD), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), muscle pain, diabetes, and cognitive function.
Specifically, the authors found that statins uses were associated with slower cancer progression, improved COPD symptoms, and better kidney function. Additional studies are necessary to validate these findings and to further investigate the mechanisms by which statins can improve health outcomes in these patient populations. The study also found that statin use was minimally associated with an increased incidence of diabetes, muscle pain, and cognitive impairments. These potential adverse effects of statins will need to be comprehensively validated in a larger cohort and further investigated mechanistically.
The current meta-analysis found that statin use was associated with improved health outcomes in patients with cancer, CKD, and COPD, as well as an increased incidence of diabetes, muscle pain, and cognitive impairments.
Overall, the study emphasized the need to further investigate the potential beneficial and adverse non-cardiovascular side effects of statin use. However, based on the current findings, the authors do not believe that any changes are necessary to the current guidelines governing statin use.
Written by Haisam Shah, BSc
Reference: He, Y., Li, X., Gasevic, D., Brunt, E., McLachlan, F., Millenson, M., … &Theodoratou, E. (2018). Statins and Multiple Noncardiovascular Outcomes: Umbrella Review of Meta-analyses of Observational Studies and Randomized Controlled Trials. Annals of internal medicine.