A Brief Drug Class Review: Considerations for Statin Use, Toxicity, and Drug Interactions

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Abstract

For approximately 30 years, statins have been effectively used to control cholesterol, thereby reducing the morbidity and mortality associated with cardiovascular disease. Evidence-based recommendations regarding how these drugs are dosed and used have changed significantly through the years. There are seven statins approved for use in the United States, and although the mechanism of action pertaining to cholesterol reduction is the same for all statins, each has its own specific pharmacologic profile. One unique aspect of statin dosing is understanding the potential drug interactions associated with statin use; interactions can occur with all statins, but the mechanism and type of interaction can vary significantly among drugs. These interactions can result in significant elevations in statin blood concentrations, thereby increasing the risk of the adverse effects of statins, the most significant of which is muscle toxicity. Practitioners who care for patients receiving statins should understand the pharmacologic differences among these drugs, as well as the varied drug interaction potential that all statins possess.

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