By Aryana Gavankar, Summer 2017 Intern
Georgia Thrombosis Forum
Statins is a term for a group of drugs, created for the specific purpose of lowering the cholesterol levels in the blood. VTE, an acronym for venous thromboembolism, is a term encompassing the cases of both DVT (deep vein thrombosis) as well as PE (pulmonary embolism). In patients with thrombosis, there is a blood clot which builds up, and can either move towards the lungs or remain in a vein; both conditions cause many problems to the patient. In order to reduce the risks of VTE, statins are being considered as an option for drugs to prescribe to patients with higher cholesterol levels.
Statins are currently in use, mainly with the purpose of reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke. These drugs have been proven to “reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, and even death from heart disease” (Beckerman). However, these drugs are not used by the amount of people who need to use them. The LDL levels (levels of bad cholesterol) are lowered through the use of these drugs. In order to lower these levels, statins hinders the ability of the liver enzyme to produce cholesterol. By doing so, it lessens the risk of buildup. This buildup usually becomes a clot, or a thrombus, which would then become an embolus. Statins, however, also lower the levels of triglycerides (body fat) and raise the level of HDL (“good” cholesterol); statins are also able to lower the buildup in arteries, further decreasing the risk of developing VTE.
Many of the patients who use statins are very receptive to the drugs. However, side effects include headaches, insomnia, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, and constipation. These are some of the mild side effects. Some of the major side effects of this drug include myositis (muscle inflammation) or elevated levels of CPK, which triggers muscle pain or inflammation (Beckerman). Statins are currently in use by about 17 million Americans, but it is not a drug used to manage or treat VTE (Agarwal). Many more tests need to be performed in order for statins to become a drug created for the purpose of preventing VTE in patients with higher levels of LDL.
Agarwal, V., O. J. Phung, V. Tongbram, A. Bhardwaj, and C. I. Coleman. “Statin Use and the Prevention of Venous Thromboembolism: A Meta-analysis.” International Journal of Clinical Practice. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2010. Web. 28 June 2017.
Beckerman, James, MD. “Side Effects of Cholesterol-Lowering Statin Drugs.” WebMD. WebMD, 25 July 2016. Web. 28 June 2017.
Ray, Lance, Pharm.D. “”Statins” (a Commonly Used Type of Cholesterol Lowering Medication) Reduce the Risk of Venous Thrombosis – Data from the JUPITER Trial.”Statins (cholesterol Lowering Medication) Reduce the Risk of Venous Thrombosis (VTE) – Data from the JUPITER Trial. N.p., May 2009. Web. 28 June 2017.