This cholesterol drug can bring kidney risk, study confirms

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In a recent study by Johns Hopkins University, researchers have raised concerns about rosuvastatin, a common cholesterol-lowering medication.

This study suggests that higher doses of rosuvastatin may harm the kidneys, a finding that could change how doctors prescribe this drug.

Rosuvastatin is part of the statin family, drugs known for their effectiveness in lowering high cholesterol. Many people rely on these medications to keep their cholesterol in check, with rosuvastatin being a popular choice.

However, this new study has brought to light some worrying findings. When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved rosuvastatin, there were already signs that it might cause kidney damage.

This included blood in the urine (hematuria) and protein in the urine (proteinuria). But until now, there hasn’t been much follow-up research to see how significant these risks are in real-world settings.

The Johns Hopkins team delved into electronic health records from 2011 to 2019, comparing the effects of rosuvastatin with another statin, atorvastatin.

They looked at records of over 150,000 people who started taking rosuvastatin and nearly 800,000 new users of atorvastatin.

Over three years, they found that 2.9% of the patients developed hematuria and 1.0% developed proteinuria.

More concerning was the discovery that compared to atorvastatin, rosuvastatin increased the risk of hematuria by 8%, proteinuria by 17%, and severe kidney failure (requiring treatments like dialysis or a transplant) by 15%.

The risks were even higher with larger doses of rosuvastatin. This was particularly alarming in patients with advanced kidney disease, where 44% were prescribed higher doses than the FDA recommends for those with poor kidney function.

Despite these risks, the study found that rosuvastatin and atorvastatin were similarly effective in providing heart benefits. This raises an important question: is the small risk associated with high doses of rosuvastatin worth it, especially for people with existing kidney issues?

Published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, this study by Jung-im Shin and colleagues prompts a reevaluation of how rosuvastatin is used, especially in higher doses.

It suggests that doctors and patients should weigh the risks and benefits more carefully, considering the potential for kidney damage.

This research is a crucial reminder of the importance of ongoing monitoring and evaluation of medications after they are approved and enter widespread use.

As our understanding of these drugs’ effects in real-world settings grows, medical guidelines and prescriptions can be adjusted to prioritize patient safety and health.

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