The use of statin medications is associated with the development of myositis, according to a new research study published in the July 30 issue of the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

The population-based study conducted in Australia showed a nearly twofold increase in statin exposure in patients with myositis compared with controls. Researchers also found an increased number of cases of myositis relative to the number of myositis patients who have used statins between 2000 and 2014.

Statins, which are widely used for patients at risk for heart attack, often cause muscle aches and pains as a side effect. These symptoms often resolve without treatment when the medication is discontinued.

Statin-associated autoimmune myopathy, however, is strongly associated with the form of myositis known as necrotizing myopathy (NM), especially when autoantibodies against hydroxymethylglutaryl–coenzyme A reductase (HMGCR) are present. NM does not resolve when the patient stops taking the statin medication, and the patient must be treated with immunosuppressive medications to relieve symptoms.

While researchers stressed the importance of appropriate statin use by patients at higher risk for heart disease, they also stressed that, when patients taking these medications complain of muscle weakness or pain, clinicians should consider the possibility of inflammatory myositis.

“This debilitating adverse effect underscores the importance of prescribing statins only to patients who will clearly have a net benefit,” said cardiologist Gregory Curfman, MD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Find an online version of the article here.

TMA medical advisor Dr. Andrew Mammen discusses necrotizing myopathy and its treatment here.

3 comments on “Statin use is associated with myositis”

  1. 1
    Chris Church on August 1, 2018

    I had a period of taking statins presumably to help with keeping cholesterol levels down after a minor stroke and previous heart failure . I now have ibm and never knew why, could statins be a cause? If so where do I go it aid the stopping of this horrendous condition. Thanks.

    1. 2
      Linda Kobert on August 1, 2018

      Hello Chris. This study reports on necrotizing myopathy as the form of myositis associated with statins. I am not aware of data linking statins with IBM, although TMA has members who do claim their disease is related to statin use. I suggest you talk with your doctors to at least make them aware of your concern.

    2. 3
      Rick on August 10, 2018

      Chris, you are right. I have been devastated with my life and now disabled due to the Stain drug Lipitor. All has been documented and gone over twice to verify the diagnosis and cause. As has come out in more recent medical journals and testing showing over 30% of people taking Statins will get Myositis, possibly permanently as I have.

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