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Statin side-effects are worryingly common

I write to second Dr Stephen Fox (Letters, 13 September) on both the issues he raises: replacing the art of medicine with painting by numbers and his misgivings about statins and their side-effects.

The official incidence of myopathy due to statins is 1 in 10,000 patients. This figure was recently published in the BMJ so it must be true – or must it? Dr Fox clearly knows of several cases, whereas he should only have come across one. My experience matches his.

I can prove reversible myopathy caused by statins in no fewer than 12 patients. My figures are based on a list of 2,100, out of which 200 to 300 patients have taken or are taking statins. Some 16 reported unacceptable side-effects (nausea, rash, dizziness, vomiting, headache, excessive tiredness).

And 14 reported muscle pains and weakness. This group were followed up by: taking blood to look for elevated creatine kinase; stopping the statin to see if the side-effect disappeared and if so, restarting after a week to see if it recurred. To date 12 of the 14 meet all three of these criteria and are classified as intolerant of statin due to myopathy.

I conclude that the side-effects of statins are much more common than is generally reported and that up to half the reported intolerance is due to myopathy.

There isn't a quick fix for poor health caused by British lifestyle.

From Dr Bernard Newgrosh, Bolton, Lancashire

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