No more routine liver tests for statin users

Published: May, 2012

Most people taking statins are accustomed to having routine blood tests to watch for uncommon but serious liver-related side effects. But the rare cases of liver damage from statins aren't accurately predicted by routine blood testing. So, in March, the FDA recommended blood tests for liver function only when a person first starts taking a statin or if symptoms arise.

At the same time, the FDA strengthened label warnings on statins for two other possible side effects: increased blood sugar and temporary memory or cognitive lapses. The blood sugar concerns are supported by study data, while hard data on memory effects are still being collected. The risk of side effects seems to rise with increasing statin dose, and side effects usually stop when the drug is discontinued.

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