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J Clin Pathol. 2004 Sep;57(9):989-90.

Statin precipitated lactic acidosis?

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Queen's Hospital, Belvedere Road, Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, DE13 0RB, UK.


An 82 year old woman was admitted with worsening dyspnoea. Arterial blood gases were taken on air and revealed a pH of 7.39, with a partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) of 1.2 kPa, pO2 of 19.3 kPa, HCO3 of 13.8 mmol/litre, and base excess of -16.3 mmol/litre: a compensated metabolic acidosis with hyperventilation induced hypocapnia, which is known to be a feature of lactic acidosis. There was also an increased anion gap ((Na140 + K4.0) - (Cl 106 + HCO3 13.8) = 24.2 mEq/litre (reference range, 7-16)), consistent with unmeasured cation. Lactate was measured and found to be raised at 3.33 mmol/litre (reference range, 0.9-1.7). After exclusion of common causes of lactic acidosis Atorvastatin was stopped and her acid-base balance returned to normal. Subsequently, thiamine was also shown to be deficient. The acidosis was thought to have been the result of a mitochondrial defect caused by a deficiency of two cofactors, namely: ubiquinone (as a result of inhibition by statin) and thiamine (as a result of dietary deficiency).

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