This statin drug for high cholesterol treatment may affect kidney health

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Rosuvastatin, commonly used to manage high cholesterol levels, has recently come under the spotlight due to a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University.

This study raises concerns about its possible harmful effects on the kidneys, especially when taken in high doses.

Although known for its efficacy in lowering cholesterol, rosuvastatin had already been linked with potential kidney damage symptoms like blood and protein in urine when it received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Examining the Real-World Risks

To understand the real-world risks of rosuvastatin on kidney health, researchers scrutinized the health records of over 900,000 new users of rosuvastatin and another statin, atorvastatin, between 2011 and 2019.

They followed the patients’ health progress for three years.

The findings revealed that compared to atorvastatin, those using rosuvastatin had an 8% higher risk of having blood in urine, a 17% elevated risk of protein in urine, and a 15% increased risk of needing treatments like dialysis or transplantation due to kidney failure.

Surprisingly, the study also found that 44% of patients with advanced kidney disease were prescribed higher doses of rosuvastatin than what is recommended for those with compromised kidney function.

Consequently, the researchers questioned the worth of high-dose rosuvastatin due to the elevated risks associated, especially in patients with severe kidney conditions, even though rosuvastatin and atorvastatin had comparable benefits for the heart.

What Does This Mean for Patients?

These revelations are crucial for both doctors and patients, especially those with a history of kidney ailments or those on high doses of rosuvastatin.

Regular monitoring of kidney health is vital for individuals on rosuvastatin, more so for those with advanced kidney disease.

The study, though observational, adds value to existing knowledge about the linkage between rosuvastatin and kidney damage and emphasizes the necessity of further research to fully comprehend the associated risks.

General Statin Side Effects

Statins, although generally safe and effective in mitigating heart disease risks by lowering cholesterol, do come with potential side effects. Muscle pain and weakness are common and can affect up to 10% of users.

Rarely, statins can cause liver damage, necessitating regular monitoring of liver function. Some users might experience digestive issues or skin rashes, and a few have reported memory loss and confusion.

Furthermore, statins can elevate blood sugar levels, posing an additional risk for type 2 diabetes, though the cardiovascular benefits of statins often outweigh this risk.


The newfound association between rosuvastatin and kidney damage necessitates a careful reconsideration of its prescription, especially in higher doses and in patients with pre-existing kidney conditions.

While statins, including rosuvastatin, play a crucial role in managing cardiovascular health, the potential risks involved call for vigilant prescription practices, regular health monitoring, and continuous research to optimize the benefits while minimizing the harm.

This study by Jung-in Shin et al., published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, is a significant step forward in making medication safer and more effective for patients worldwide.

If you care about kidney health, please read studies about a drug that prevents kidney failure in diabetes, and drinking coffee could help reduce the risk of kidney injury.

For more information about kidney health, please see recent studies about foods that may prevent the recurrence of kidney stones, and common painkillers may harm the heart, kidneys, and more.

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