Cataracts From Statins? More Signals Emerge in Analyses

Statins are a class of medicines that are frequently used to lower blood cholesterol levels. The drugs are able to block the action of a chemical in the liver that is necessary for making cholesterol. Although cholesterol is necessary for normal cell and body function, very high levels of it can lead to atherosclerosis, a condition where cholesterol-containing plaques build up in arteries and block blood flow. By reducing blood cholesterol levels, statins lower the risk of chest pain (angina), heart attack, and stroke. 

By  Steve Stiles

VANCOUVER, BC — Statin therapy significantly elevates the risk of developing cataracts severe enough to warrant surgery, suggests analyses of two distinct cohorts, one from Canada and another from the US, that add to a hazy landscape of prior studies variously concluding for or against such a risk for the widely used drugs.

For now, the possibility of such a risk from statins and its potential mechanisms should be explored in prospective trials, “especially in light of increased statin use for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and the importance of acceptable vision in old age, when cardiovascular disease is common,” according to the report, published in the December 2014 issue of the Canadian Journal of Cardiology with lead author Dr Stephanie J Wise (University of British Columbia, Vancouver).

“However, because the relative risk is low and because cataract surgery is effective and well tolerated, this association should be disclosed but not be considered a deterrent to use of statins when warranted for cardiovascular risk reduction,” they write.

“For those of us who have prescribed high doses of statins for almost 3 decades, there is certainly no epidemic of cataracts among our longtime lipid-clinic patients,” write Drs Steven E Gryn and Robert A Hegele (Western University, London, ON) in an accompanying editorial.

“Nevertheless, if the findings of Wise et al are confirmed, physicians might need to factor in this potential risk when discussing statin use with patients,” they continue. “As with the statin-diabetes correlation, the risk of cataracts is greatest among individuals who are already predisposed to develop them.” And, in patients at high CV risk, “the prevention of CVD, stroke, and their associated morbidity and mortality vastly outweighs the risk of cataracts…………..

Read more: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/836293?nlid=72043_2981&src=wnl_edit_dail 

Source: Medscape  Image: http://i.huffpost.com/gen/556675/thumbs/s-CHOLESTEROL-STATINS-ALZHEIMERS-large.jpg