Overcoming statin intolerance

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If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

That’s the message a recent study is sending about popular cholesterol lowering drugs called statins.

Statins are one of the most prescribed medicines in the world and help people lower their cholesterol and subsequent risk for developing heart disease. However, 5 to 10 percent of patients suffer from side-effects like severe and debilitating muscle aches, making them statin-intolerant.

Cleveland Clinic researchers looked at roughly 1600 electronic medical records of statin-intolerant patients over a 15 year period. The patients had slowly been ‘re-challenged’ with statins. They started taking them once per week, then twice per week and then the dose was gradually increased to several days each week.

Results show about 70 percent of patients who were considered intolerant could eventually take the drugs and about 60 percent could actually tolerate a daily dose.

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