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Mayo Clin Proc. 2008 Jun;83(6):687-700. doi: 10.4065/83.6.687.

Toward "pain-free" statin prescribing: clinical algorithm for diagnosis and management of myalgia.

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Office of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Emory University, Faculty Office Building, 49 Jessie Hill Jr Dr SE, Atlanta, GA 30303, USA.


Myalgia, which often manifests as pain or soreness in skeletal muscles, is among the most salient adverse events associated with 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (statins). Clinical issues related to statin-associated myotoxicity include (1) incidence in randomized controlled trials and occurrence in postmarketing surveillance databases; (2) potential differences between statins in their associations with such adverse events; and (3) diagnostic and treatment strategies to prevent, recognize, and manage these events. Data from systematic reviews, meta-analyses, clinical and observational trials, and post-marketing surveillance indicate that statin-associated myalgia typically affects approximately 5.0% of patients, as myopathy in 0.1% and as rhabdomyolysis in 0.01%. However, studies also suggest that myalgia is among the leading reasons patients discontinue statins (particularly high-dose statin monotherapy) and that treatment with certain statins (eg, fluvastatin) is unlikely to result in such adverse events. This review presents a clinical algorithm for monitoring and managing statin-associated myotoxicity. The algorithm highlights risk factors for muscle toxicity and provides recommendations for (1) creatine kinase measurements and monitoring; (2) statin dosage reduction, discontinuation, and rechallenge; and (3) treatment alternatives, such as extended-release fluvastatin with or without ezetimibe, low-dose or alternate-day rosuvastatin, or ezetimibe with or without colesevelam. The algorithm should help to inform and enhance patient care and reduce the risk of myalgia and other potentially treatment-limiting muscle effects that might undermine patient adherence and compromise the overall cardioprotective benefits of statins.

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