Safety of statins when response is carefully monitored: a study of 336 heart recipients.
Transplant Proc. 2005 Nov ;37(9):4071-3. PMID: 16386629
Area del Corazón, belong to Red Investigación Cardiovascular RECAVA (Instituto de Salud Carlos III), Spain. firstname.lastname@example.org
BACKGROUND: Statins are used as first-line drugs against hypercholesterolemia after heart transplantation. Randomized clinical trials have shown that they reduce cholesterol levels, and the incidence of rejection and coronary vasculopathy. Adverse effects have been related to the use of certain statins, high statin dosages, comorbidities, and coadministration with cyclosporine. However, estimation of the risk of adverse effects for a given patient is difficult. The aims of this study were to determine the incidence of various kinds of adverse effect of statins; to evaluate certain potential risk factors; and to assess the efficacy of early response to signs of adverse effects.
METHODS: Between April 1991 and December 2003, we retrospectively evaluated 336 heart transplant patients (including 55 women) with regard to the occurrence of possible adverse effects of statins (rhabdomyolysis, myalgia, hepatotoxicity, high CK without muscle symptoms, and others). Resolution on reduction of dosage or discontinuance and/or change of statin were deemed to constitute confirmation of cause. Relations were sought between adverse effects and age, sex, immunosuppressive therapy, kidney failure, body mass index (BMI), arterial hypertension, and diabetes mellitus.
RESULTS: Possible adverse events of statins were suffered by 60 patients, all of them men. The causal role of statins was confirmed in 41 (12.2% of all 336): hepatotoxicity was suffered by 13, high CK without muscle ache or weakness by 18, rhabdomyolysis by 5, myalgia by 3, and other effects by 2. The incidence of confirmed statin-related complications was higher among patients with BMI>29 kg/m(2) than among those with lower BMI (P = .055). None of the patients with confirmed statin-related complications needed dialysis, none died, and permanent suspension of statin treatment was only necessary in 13 cases (3.9% of the 336).
CONCLUSIONS: Some 10% to 20% of HT patients appear to suffer adverse side effects of initial statin therapy. However, early detection of such effects through diligent clinical and analytical monitoring allows the therapy to be modified in time to minimize the appearance of severe complications. In only a minority of cases permanent suspension of statin therapy is necessary.