Addressing statin adverse effects in the clinic: The 5 Ms

Daniel H. Katz, Sunny S. Intwala, Neil J. Stone*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


With the release of the 2013 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) Guideline on the Treatment of Blood Cholesterol to Reduce Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Risk in Adults, emphasis has been placed on using evidence-based intensity of therapy to reduce atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) risk, rather than focusing on goal cholesterol levels. Before initiating therapy, however, it is critical that physicians and patients discuss 4 key topics: (1) the benefit of ASCVD risk reduction, (2) medication adverse effects, (3) drug-drug interactions, and (4) patient preferences. To facilitate discussion of statin adverse effects, we present here an evidence-based review of the 5 Ms of statin adverse effects: metabolism, muscle, medication interactions, major organ effects, and memory. "Metabolism" represents the small risk of new-onset diabetes that comes with statins, which is highest in those with diabetes risk factors. "Muscle" requires discussion of the wide range of muscle symptoms that occur with statins but emphasizes that these have been no more prevalent than those experienced with placebo in randomized controlled trials (RCTs). "Medication interactions" emphasize that statins interact with numerous medications. Interaction profiles vary widely between statins, and patients should be made aware of the most common interactions with their prescription. "Major organ effects" prompt the physician to review the possibility of a transient transaminitis as well as the recent observation of rare acute kidney injury with statin use. Both are rare and do not require routine monitoring. Finally, "memory" references the recent observational data suggesting statins may contribute to memory loss and confusion, both of which have not been observed in RCTs and resolve with drug cessation. Reviewing these common effects has the possibility to strengthen the doctor-patient relationship and boost both medication adherence and patient satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)533-542
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 11 2014


  • hypercholesterolemia
  • lipids
  • statin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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