Statin safety: an overview and assessment of the data--2005

Am J Cardiol. 2006 Apr 17;97(8A):6C-26C. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2005.12.006. Epub 2006 Feb 8.


The 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors, or statin drugs, have been studied in numerous controlled human research trials involving hundreds of thousands of study participants. Statins have been prescribed for millions of patients. Based on this vast research and clinical experience, statins have been shown to improve lipid blood levels and reduce atherosclerotic coronary artery disease (CAD) risk, resulting in reduced CAD morbidity and mortality, and in several studies, reduced overall ("all-cause") mortality. From a safety perspective, both research trial evidence and clinical practice experience have demonstrated that statins are generally well tolerated. However, as with all pharmaceuticals, safety considerations exist with both monotherapy and combination statin therapy, mainly involving potential adverse effects on muscle, liver, kidney, and the nervous system. The evidence supporting statin-related potential adverse experiences on these organ systems is sometimes strong and based on clear clinical trial evidence (such as the increased risk of muscle enzyme elevation with higher statin doses). The evidence is at other times more speculative, being based on case reports and inconclusive clinical trial data (such as possible favorable or unfavorable effects of statins on cognition). Because the use of statins is so widespread, it is useful for the clinician to understand statin safety issues and the level of available evidence supporting the contention that various adverse effects are caused by statins. This review presents an assessment of statin safety based on an overview of the current statin safety data and their clinical implications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury
  • Dementia
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / pharmacokinetics
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / adverse effects
  • Kidney Diseases / chemically induced
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Muscular Diseases / chemically induced
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis
  • Proteinuria / chemically induced
  • Stroke / prevention & control


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Hypolipidemic Agents