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Oct 28, 2016

Experts Highlight the Importance of Managing Drug Interactions with Statins

Widespread use of cholesterol-lowering statins brings the issue to light.

With widespread use of cholesterol-lowering statins, managing potential interactions with other drugs is a must, as highlighted in a recent statement from the American Heart Association.

Published in Circulation, this statement provided recommendations for the management of drug interactions with statins, which has become a growing concern among heart patients.

Over the past few decades, statins have become widely used in people with and without heart disease to help lower cholesterol and prevent life-threatening heart events. The problem is that most heart patients are also taking other drugs, many of which have positive and/or negative interactions with statins. For example, when statins are taken in combination with other drugs, it can increase likelihood of muscle pain—the most common side effect associated with statin use. Certain drug combinations can also increase risk of bleeding and other potentially serious complications. However, combining statins with other drugs can also have beneficial effects, like reducing risk for blood clots.

So in their recent statement, experts from the American Heart Association list all known interactions between common heart drugs and statins, based on previous research. They also include recommendations for which combinations of drugs may be useful or considered safe, and which should be avoided. The goal was to raise awareness for this important issue and provide clear recommendations that providers can implement in their day-to-day practice.

Ultimately, authors conclude that interactions between statins and other heart medications are often unavoidable. The key, however, is ensuring that patients and providers are aware of these effects and manage them appropriately. Thus, when patients are taking statins, it’s essential that their medications are reviewed at each and every visit. By routinely updating medication lists, providers are able to catch all potential interactions as early as possible and make adjustments when necessary.

Questions for You to Consider

  • What are statins?
  • Statins are drugs used to lower cholesterol. They help lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol and raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol, which can help prevent heart attack and stroke. Statins prevent your body from making new cholesterol and may help reduce the amount of plaque already built up on artery walls.
  • What are the risks associated with high cholesterol?
  • High cholesterol can cause atherosclerosis, the build-up of plaque on artery walls. This accumulation of deposits can cause serious complications, such as chest painheart attack and stroke. High cholesterol is largely preventable and treatable, so getting screened and making healthy lifestyle choices can go a long way in controlling cholesterol levels.


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