Treatment strategies in patients with statin intolerance: the Cleveland Clinic experience

Am Heart J. 2013 Sep;166(3):597-603. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2013.06.004. Epub 2013 Aug 5.


Background: Statin therapy is a proven effective treatment of hyperlipidemia. However, a significant number of patients cannot tolerate statins. This study was conducted to review treatment strategies for patients intolerant to statin therapy with a focus on intermittent statin dosing.

Methods and results: We performed a retrospective analysis of medical records of 1,605 patients referred to the Cleveland Clinic Preventive Cardiology Section for statin intolerance between January 1995 and March 2010 with at least a 6-month follow-up. The changes in lipid profile, achievement of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) goals, and statin tolerance rate were analyzed. Most (72.5%) of patients with prior statin intolerance were able to tolerate a statin for the median follow-up time of 31 months. Patients on intermittent statin dosing (n = 149) had significantly lower LDL-C reduction compared with daily dosing group (n = 1,014; 21.3% ± 4.0% vs 27.7% ± 1.4%, P < .04). However, compared with the statin discontinued group (n = 442), they had a significantly higher LDL-C reduction (21.3% ± 4.0% vs 8.3 ± 2.2%, P < .001), and a significantly higher portion achieved their Adult Treatment Panel III goal of LDL-C (61% vs 44%, P < .05). There was a trend toward a decrease in all-cause mortality at 8 years for patients on daily and intermittent statin dosing compared with those who discontinued statin (P = .08).

Conclusions: Most patients with previous statin intolerance can tolerate subsequent trial of statin. A strategy of intermittent statin dosing can be an effective therapeutic option in some patients and may result in reduction in LDL-C and achievement of LDL-C goals.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / administration & dosage*
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Hyperlipidemias / drug therapy*
  • Hyperlipidemias / mortality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors