|In the most comprehensive, detailed, non-governmental analysis of statins ever undertaken, the National Lipid Association (NLA) has confirmed the safety and benefits of cholesterol-lowering statin therapy. According to an article published in the April 17 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology, the National Lipid Association's Statin Safety Task Force has concluded that statins are incredibly safe drugs that do not cause significant liver, muscle, kidney or neurological dysfunction, but can actually help prevent stroke, heart attacks, angioplasty, and even death.
Terry Jacobson, MD, professor of medicine in the Department of Medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine and director of the Office of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at Grady Memorial Hospital, served on the NLA Task Force and is an author of the journal article. Dr. Jacobson and a team of experts reviewed data from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other materials including published material and databases to determine statin safety, concluded that monitoring liver function is no longer necessary, and recommended a review of these requirements by the FDA.
"The benefits of these drugs are huge," says Dr. Jacobson, noting that statins are the leading class of medications taken by Americans. "People taking these drugs not only live longer, but they live better. Statins are as safe as taking an aspirin a day, yet people are afraid to take these drugs because they've heard media reports and direct-to-consumer ads. Rarely in medicine do you have a class of medicines that are so safe that the benefits go way beyond any risks. These drugs prevent one in three heart attacks, strokes, angioplasty, even death. That means the risks turn out to be much smaller than anyone expected."
Dr. Jacobson says that since statins do not cause liver damage, it is unnecessary for doctors to monitor patients' liver function. Rather, statins are safe enough to even prescribe to certain patients with liver disease. "These drugs do not damage the liver," he says. "Liver failure is unheard of, and liver damage does not really occur. That's why there is no reason to subject people to all of this measuring and monitoring of their liver. If people don't fear these drugs, they are more likely to take them."