Statins & Statin-Intolerance

Although statins are the mainstay of cholesterol treatment and cardiovascular disease prevention, many patients have difficulty tolerating these medications. The Cholesterol Treatment Center is one of the only statin intolerance centers in the United States.

Often there are factors that can be adjusted that may help a patient tolerate statin medication. Sometimes patients may tolerate one versus another statin. There are genetic factors that can be measured that cab predict statin tolerability. 

Often times, physicians just treat numbers and add a statin medication such as Lipitor to the patient without recognizing or sympathizing with the significant side effects that might occur. 

Before patients are labeled as statin-intolerant, one should consider that many patients have success using a different statin, lower dosing or a combination of prescriptive and over-the-counter therapies that can produce the desired results. The Cholesterol Treatment Center ushers patients through a complex process of finding a comfortable, effective regimen that, for many, produces the same positive reductions in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.   

Despite that they may be well tolerated by most who take them, with so many taking statins, even a small percentage of patients who find that they cannot or think they cannot tolerate this class of medicines, translates into a large group of subjects.

For some patients, the cause of statin-intolerance may be an identifiable genetic factor or patients may be taking another drug that does not may interact with the statin, causing the side effect.

The reality is, statin-intolerant patients can require lots of hand-holding as side effects are examined, dosing regimens are altered and alternative lipid-lowering therapies are tried.   Because “statin-intolerant” patients have suffered side effects—typically muscle weakness or aching, and much less frequently, perceived reduction in memory —many are anxious about trying statins again.

Statins are part of the bigger picture of lowering a patient’s cardiovascular risk.