A Narrative Review of Statin-Induced Rhabdomyolysis: Molecular Mechanism, Risk Factors, and Management

Drug Healthc Patient Saf. 2021 Nov 8:13:211-219. doi: 10.2147/DHPS.S333738. eCollection 2021.


Although statins are effective for treating hypercholesterolemia, they can have various side effects, including rhabdomyolysis, a potentially fatal condition. This review evaluated the incidence and underlying molecular mechanism of statin-induced rhabdomyolysis and analyzed its risk factors, prevention, and management. We focused on the clinical and randomized clinical trials of statin monotherapies and combinations with other drugs. The primary mechanism of statin therapy-induced rhabdomyolysis is believed to be a decrease in ubiquinone (coenzyme Q) produced by the HMG-CoA pathway. Additionally, different types of lipophilic and hydrophilic statins play a role in causing rhabdomyolysis. Although statin-induced rhabdomyolysis has a low incidence, there is no guarantee that patients will be free of this side effect. Rhabdomyolysis can be prevented by reducing the risk factors, such as using CYP3A4 inhibitors, using high-dose statins, and strenuous physical activities.

Keywords: adverse effect; hypercholesterolemia; rhabdomyolysis; risk factor; statin.

Publication types

  • Review