Carrying a specific gene could explain why some people who take statins might suffer from muscle aches, researchers have discovered.
The cholesterol-lowering drugs are often prescribed to people with diabetes to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, but they have been associated with side effects including muscle aches and an increased risk of depression.
Scientists at the University of Dundee have now shown that statins can negatively affect a specific genetic sub-group which heightens the risk of these side effects.
The findings of the study were gathered using data from 175,000 people in Scotland who signed up to the Scottish Health Research Register (SHARE).
Lead researcher Professor Colin Palmer said: “We found that there are people in the general population who carry a genetic factor that predisposes them to muscle aches.
“If these people are put on statins, they might discontinue their medication in the erroneous belief that it is the statin that is making their muscles ache. At the same time, we observed that there is a genetic sub-group of patients who are susceptible to statin-specific muscle aches.”
It is unclear how many, if any of the cohort involved in this research had diabetes, but the findings could be of significance for people with diabetes, particularly if doctors are able to screen patients before prescribing statins to see if they are carrying this genetic sub-group, known as LILRB5.
It is thought up to 29 per cent of people stop taking statins because of muscle discomfort, but this screening could lead to alternative treatments being considered.
“This means that it would be possible to test prospective statin users for key genetic variants, including LILRB5, to prevent people being put on statins if they are likely to have an adverse reaction to them,” added Palmer.
“This is the first time a genetic variant thought to be involved in the repair and regeneration of muscles has been found to be associated with this side effect.”
The study has been published in the European Heart Journal.

Get our free newsletters

Stay up to date with the latest news, research and breakthroughs.

You May Also Like

Public Health England considers low carb approach for type 2 diabetes

The low carb approach is being considered by the government to be…

Twice daily dairy intakes could reduce type 2 diabetes risk

Eating cheese, yoghurt or eggs twice a day could help lower the…

Conversation about doctors’ appointments occurring virtually rumbles on

More than half of GP appointments are still being delivered remotely in…