Saturday, October 9, 2010

Serious Lung Condition Attributed To Statins

Health Canada has added to the ongoing debate over one of the country’s most-prescribed medications, saying it has received reports of eight cases of a potentially life threatening lung condition in patients taking cholesterol-busting statins. It has almost become a given that Canadians over a certain age will end up taking the drugs, 32 million prescriptions of which were sold here in 2009. Though there are questions about whether they are useful for people who have high cholesterol, but no sign of actual heart disease, their side effects have not been a huge issue. In the most recent issue of Health Canada’s Adverse-reaction newsletter, the department discusses the eight adverse reaction reports it has received in which statins were suspected of causing interstitial lung disease (ILD), a group of disorders that can cause scarring of the lungs. Six of the eight cases were reported as serious and two improved as soon as the patient was taken off statins. Such adverse-reaction reports are considered indicators of a possible problem, and far from conclusive. A 2008 review in the journal Chest, however, concluded that ILD is a possible new, though relatively rare, side effect of statins. Doctors should probably stop statin therapy in anyone with unexplained lung problems, the authors said. National Post, Tom Blackwell, Oct 5, 2010

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