More Kidney Disease Seen With Long-Term Statin Use
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, February 10, 2016 12:00 AM

This report says to scientists, physicians, funding agencies, and policy makers: Watch out, it seems that we still do not know enough about the long-term effects of these drugs on the overall well-being of patients.  

A large, 8-year retrospective study with a median 6.4-year follow-up associated long-term statin use with an increased risk of kidney disease.

Statin users showed a 30% to 36% greater prevalence of kidney disease during follow-up.  This study shows that “despite the use of statins for more than a quarter of a century, there are aspects about its long-term effects in noncardiac diseases that we do not know very well. We are missing more extensive, real-world data of the effectiveness of statins on total morbidity and all-cause mortality, and we need further studies specifically focusing on long-term outcomes in primary prevention." Moreover, “the new [ACC] guidelines . . . are projected to increase statin use to many more hundreds of millions of healthy people, and before we do that we better make sure that we are not causing harm,” the author  cautioned.

“Our paper says to scientists, physicians, funding agencies, [and] policy makers: 'Watch out, [it] seems that we still do not know enough about the long-term effects of these drugs on [the] overall well-being of patients.'"  Clinicians need to carefully monitor creatinine levels in patients taking statins.

The researchers analyzed healthcare data from 2003 to 2012 from 30- to 85-year-olds who lived in the San Antonio, TX area and were members of Tricare Prime or Tricare Plus insurance plan for members of the military and their families. The overall cohort comprised 43,438 individuals: 13,626 statin users and 29,812 nonusers. The statin users took the drugs for a mean of 4.65 years.

"The findings of this study, though cautionary, suggest that short-term [randomized controlled trial] may not fully describe long-term adverse effects of statins," Acharya and colleagues conclude. Statins lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular death, but "on the other hand, statins increase the risk of incident diabetes and possibly kidney diseases, both of which paradoxically increase long-term morbidity and mortality," they continue.

Randomized controlled trials for primary prevention with statins were sometimes prematurely terminated once the efficacy of reducing major acute cardiovascular events was achieved, and these trials rarely had total mortality as a primary outcome, according to the researchers.