Research looks into lessening the danger of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs

August 6, 2013, Lawson Health Research Institute
Dr. Richard Kim and a team of his colleagues are using personalized DNA tests to identify patients at risk of complications associated with statins. Credit: Lawson Health Research Institute

Statins, a class of drugs used to lower cholesterol, are among the best selling drugs in North America and around the world. However, statin myopathy, which results in muscle pain and weakness, is a common side effect affecting up to 10 percent of statin users. A recent study led by Dr. Richard Kim of the Lawson Health Research Institute, in collaboration with Dr. Robert Hegele of Robarts Research Institute, and researchers from Vanderbilt University, found that commonly occurring genetic variations in a person's genes could put them at risk for statin-associated muscle injury.

Nearly 3-million Canadians are currently taking a statin. However, according to Dr. Kim, who is a physician at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) and holds the Wolfe Medical Research Chair in Pharmacogenomics at Western University, little is known about the blood levels of these drugs in a real world patient population. "Currently, we do not fully understand the necessary for optimal , making it difficult to predict an individual's dose requirement while minimizing the risk of side effects," states Dr. Kim. In his recent study, Dr. Kim set out to quantify patient's blood levels of statins and decipher the role genes play in statin uptake and absorption.

"We found that commonly occurring genetic variations in the genes that help to clear the drugs from the body, widely referred to as drug transporters, are key predictors of patients who will likely have high statin blood levels," says Dr. Kim. "We think those patients with high levels of statins in their blood are at a much greater risk for statin-associated ."

Currently, physicians can not readily identify at using the available . However, Dr. Kim proposes using the pharmacogenetic tests presently available, in addition to the clinical variables he and his research team have outlined in their paper, would help to better identify these patients and prevent serious side effects. "This seems to be very relevant, especially for the many elderly patients who take these medications," says Dr. Kim.

As part of their personalized medicine program, Dr. Kim plans to utilize these pharmacogenetic tests and the algorithm they have created and apply them in a hospital and region wide fashion. As well, a larger clinical trial is being planned to compare their genomics-guided approach versus standard care in terms of better outcomes, cost-effectiveness, and prevention of adverse drug reactions.

The study, "Clinical and Pharmacogenetic Predictors of Circulating Atorvastatin and Rosuvastatin Concentration in Routine Clinical Care," was published in the July issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics.

Explore further: Study examines the role adverse reactions play in statin discontinuation

Related Stories

Study examines the role adverse reactions play in statin discontinuation

April 1, 2013
Despite their well-documented benefits, statins, drugs used to lower cholesterol, are commonly discontinued in routine care. Statin discontinuation has been linked to increased risk for cardiovascular events and death in ...

Statins plus certain antibiotics may set off toxic reaction, study says

June 17, 2013
(HealthDay)—Doctors should avoid ordering certain antibiotics for older patients who take cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, such as Lipitor, Canadian researchers say.

Specialized treatment helps cholesterol patients who suffer side effects from statins

June 28, 2013
Up to 15 percent of patients who take cholesterol-lowering statin medications experience muscle pain or other side effects, and many patients simply stop taking the drugs.

Statin use linked to few side effects

July 9, 2013
the popular class of cholesterol-lowering drugs used widely to prevent recurrent heart disease or stroke as well as risk for having a first cardiac or stroke event—appear to cause few side effects, according to new research ...

Anti-cholesterol drugs may do more harm than good for older people

June 3, 2013
The side effects of Australia's most commonly prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs may outweigh the benefits in older people, a new clinical review has found.

Cold winters freezing out breast cancer treatment

April 18, 2013
For women diagnosed with a form of breast cancer known as estrogen receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer, tamoxifen is an essential drug used in the treatment and prevention of recurring breast cancer. Currently, tamoxifen ...

Recommended for you

Biomechanical mapping method aids development of therapies for damaged heart tissue

January 23, 2018
Researchers have developed a new way to capture the detailed biomechanical properties of heart tissue. The high-resolution optical technique fills an important technology gap necessary to develop and test therapies that might ...

Researchers borrow from AIDS playbook to tackle rheumatic heart disease

January 22, 2018
Billions of US taxpayer dollars have been invested in Africa over the past 15 years to improve care for millions suffering from the HIV/AIDS epidemic; yet health systems on the continent continue to struggle. What if the ...

A nanoparticle inhalant for treating heart disease

January 18, 2018
A team of researchers from Italy and Germany has developed a nanoparticle inhalant for treating people suffering from heart disease. In their paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the group describes ...

Starting periods before age of 12 linked to heightened risk of heart disease and stroke

January 15, 2018
Starting periods early—before the age of 12—is linked to a heightened risk of heart disease and stroke in later life, suggests an analysis of data from the UK Biobank study, published online in the journal Heart.

'Decorated' stem cells could offer targeted heart repair

January 10, 2018
Although cardiac stem cell therapy is a promising treatment for heart attack patients, directing the cells to the site of an injury - and getting them to stay there - remains challenging. In a new pilot study using an animal ...

Exercise is good for the heart, high blood pressure is bad—researchers find out why

January 10, 2018
When the heart is put under stress during exercise, it is considered healthy. Yet stress due to high blood pressure is bad for the heart. Why? And is this always the case? Researchers of the German Centre for Cardiovascular ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.