Galveston, TX

UTMB medical student and professor conduct a study of statins side effects

Jason Martinez

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GALVESTON, TX — John Davis, a medical student at UTMB conducted a study along with Dr. Susan Weller, a professor at UTMB about the connection between statins and patient perceptions of side effects, and the results were reported in the journal BMJ Open.

Initially, John Davis was diagnosed by the doctor with a genetic condition that required him to take statins — a common medication prescribed to lower cholesterol in the U.S. Statins helps patients avoid heart attacks and strokes by reducing bad cholesterol levels.

Over a year ago, Davis collapsed on the basketball court while also knowing that he could have prevented it by taking statins. Back then, he didn’t understand how important statins were to his immediate health.

“I was worried about the side effects and I thought I was young and healthy, so I stopped taking them,” he said.

Although statins can be lifesaving, there are many patients who stopped taking statins because of their real or perceived side effects. However, some doctors believe that the side effects happen frequently while others don’t believe statins can cause them at all.

Therefore, Davis and Weller studied clinical trials where patients have no idea whether they were taking a statin or a placebo.

“There have been many new studies showing that people who have muscle pain on statins are expecting the pain, which is why they report it,” Davis said. “But they report muscle pain nearly as often on placebos as they do on statins.”

Davis and Weller's discovery of comparing and analyzing clinic trials from around the world explained that moderate-intensity statins did not increase the risk of muscle pain or weakness compared to when study participants took a placebo. However, there was a slight increase when comparing high-intensity statins to placebos or lower-dose statins, the study authors said.

Davis said he hopes this study will convince medical experts and patients alike that taking statins as prescribed can be lifesaving and that side effects are rare.

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