This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Read the latest issue online

GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

Monitor at-risk statin patients for osteoporosis, research urges

Patients on high-dose statins should be monitored more frequently for osteoporosis, researchers have urged.

Research found that patients on statins are just under four times likely to develop osteoporosis than those who are not, and that the risk increases with the dose of statin.

The study, published in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, was carried out by researchers in Vienna looked at just over 353,500 patients on statins aged, on average, between 65 and 69. They found that patients on statins were almost four times as likely as those who weren’t to be diagnosed with osteoporosis, with women aged between 40 and 50 and taking statins the most likely group to be diagnosed.

They also found that the osteoporosis risk increased with the dose of statin. Patients on 10-20mg of simvastatin were around a third less likely to be diagnosed with osteoporosis than those not on a statin, while patients on >40-60mg were over 1.5 times more likely. This rose to over three times the likelihood of developing osteoporosis in those on >60-80mg.

Similar increases were observed for atorvastatin and rosuvastatin.

The researchers said that the evidence supported more frequent monitoring for patients on high-dose statins.

They said in the paper: ‘Our data suggest that osteoporosis is overrepresented in high-dosage but underrepresented in low-dosage statin treatment. Guidelines for cholesterol lowering therapies for prevention of cardiovascular complications advise to reduce plasma LDL-cholesterol levels as low as 70mg/dL in high risk populations.

‘We propose that monitoring high-risk patients, that is, postmenopausal female patients under high-dosage statin therapy, might be useful in order to offer an individual therapy to prevent or treat osteoporosis.’

The research comes as NHS chief executive Simon Stevens announced plans earlier this month to consider making high-dose statins available over the counter in pharmacies.

Readers' comments (4)

  • Great....

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • What does ‘monitor’ mean?
    Unworkable advice without tools to assess risk incorporating these findings.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Another good reason not to prescribe...

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • dear pulse - the report does not say this, you also missed that the report suggests that low doses may be protective for osteoporosis but actually if you read the report its not a good indicator of risk at all as it was a data collection exercise and not a research study and they themselves acknowledge the many flaws in the report. so if you do not understand how to read a research paper please stop commenting on them as your headline is inaccurate and misleading. Its becoming a common theme for pulse and it needs to stop.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say