Risk of Rhabdomyolysis from Zocor, Crestor, Other Statins Unclear: Study

Researchers indicate that because of how hospitals are coding records, it is difficult to track just how many people suffer a serious muscle injury, known as rhabdomyolysis, after taking statin-based cholesterol drugs, such as Crestor and Zocor

In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers examined medical codes put in place in 2006, which were meant to track cases of statin-related rhabdomyloysis.

According to the findings, despite the coding data, it remains unclear what the risk is of rhabdomyolysis from Zocor, Crestor and other statins.

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Rhabdomyolysis causes muscle fibers to begin to break down, releasing a protein called myoglobin, which can damage the kidneys as they attempt to filter it out of the bloodstream. Symptoms of rhabdomyolysis include muscle cramps, tenderness, stiffness, pain or spasms. The illness is usually reported in patients over 65 years of age or those who have renal impairment or uncontrolled hypothyroidism.

All statins have been found to carry a risk of muscle injury, known as myopathy, and rhabdomyolysis is the most severe form, potentially resulting in severe kidney damage, kidney failure and death. All statins currently contain a warning that myopathy and rhabdomyolysis are rare possible side effects.

Doctors and researchers had hoped that putting a specific medical code in place for statin-related rhabdomyloysis would allow them to understand how widespread the problem was, so that they could better determine the health risks of statins, which are widely used medications.

Researchers looked at 292 statin users and found that the coding used in billing data accurately identified 22 people with rhabdomyoloysis. However, researchers identified another seven through other means. Twenty-six of the 29 people were hospitalized.

The investigators said that the study deconstructed the belief you could use billing data alone to track rhabdomyolysis rates, but appears to confirm the link between the kidney and muscle ailment and the cholesterol-fighting drugs.

Statins are among the best-selling drugs in the United States, with $14.5 billion in combined sales in 2008. They use the liver to block the body’s creation of cholesterol, which is a key contributor to coronary artery disease. Statin is used in a number of other popular cholesterol controlling drugs, including Crestor, Lipitor, Mevacor, Lescol and Pravachol.


  • SusanNovember 28, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    I was hospitalized with rhabdomyolisis. I have taken Crestor and Zocor.

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