Toward "Pain-Free" Statin Prescribing: Clinical Algorithm for Diagnosis and Management of Myalgia

Jacobson, Terry A.
June 2008
Mayo Clinic Proceedings;Jun2008, Vol. 83 Issue 6, p687
Academic Journal
Myalgia, which often manifests as pain or soreness in skeletal muscles, is among the most salient adverse events associated with 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (statins). Clinical issues related to statin-associated myotoxicity include (1) incidence in randomized controlled trials and occurrence in postmarketing surveillance databases; (2) potential differences between statins in their associations with such adverse events; and (3) diagnostic and treatment strategies to prevent, recognize, and manage these events. Data from systematic reviews, meta-analyses, clinical and observational trials, and post-marketing surveillance indicate that statin-associated myalgia typically affects approximately 5.0% of patients, as myopathy in 0.1% and as rhabdomyolysis in 0.01%. However, studies also suggest that myalgia is among the leading reasons patients discontinue statins (particularly high-dose statin monotherapy) and that treatment with certain statins (eg, fluvastatin) is unlikely to result in such adverse events. This review presents a clinical algorithm for monitoring and managing statin-associated myotoxicity. The algorithm highlights risk factors for muscle toxicity and provides recommendations for (1) creatine kinase measurements and monitoring; (2) statin dosage reduction, discontinuation, and rechallenge; and (3) treatment alternatives, such as extended-release fluvastatin with or without ezetimibe, low-dose or alternate-day rosuvastatin, or ezetimibe with or without colesevelam. The algorithm should help to inform and enhance patient care and reduce the risk of myalgia and other potentially treatment-limiting muscle effects that might undermine patient adherence and compromise the overall cardioprotective benefits of statins.


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