Patients who take statins to lower high cholesterol levels often complain of muscle pains, which can lead them to stop taking the highly effective medication and put them at greater risk of heart attack or stroke.
Some clinicians have recommended vitamin D supplements to ease the muscle aches of patients taking a statin.
But in a study from Northwestern University and elsewhere, scientists found the vitamin appears to have no substantial impact.
Although previous studies have reported vitamin D to be an effective treatment for statin-associated muscle symptoms, the new study was large enough to rule out any important benefits.
In the study, 2,083 participants ingested either 2,000 units of vitamin D supplements daily or a placebo.
The team found participants in both categories were equally likely to develop muscle symptoms and discontinue statin therapy.
Over 4.8 years of follow-up, statin-related muscle pain was reported by 31% of the participants assigned vitamin D.
Statins and vitamin D supplements are two of the most commonly used medications in American adults.
About 30 to 35 million Americans are prescribed statins, and about half of the population, aged 60 and older take a vitamin D supplement.
The team says they took advantage of a large placebo-controlled randomized trial to test whether vitamin D would reduce statin-associated muscle symptoms and help patients keep taking their statins
The placebo control in the study was important because if people think vitamin D is supposed to reduce their muscle pains, they just might feel better while taking it, even if vitamin D has no specific effect.
The team says for those who have difficulties with statins, a systematic appraisal by a physician with experience in dealing with these matters is still very important.
If you care about wellness, please read studies that vegetarian women have a higher risk of hip fracture, and these vitamins could help reduce bone fracture risk.
For more information about wellness, please see recent studies that the Mediterranean diet could reduce frailty in older people, and Jarlsberg cheese could help prevent bone-thinning disease.
The study was conducted by Dr. Neil Stone et al and published in JAMA Cardiology.
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