Most statin side effects are purely psychological

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In this episode, I cover a 2021 study (PMID: 34531021) that shows that most statin-related muscle side effects are actually caused by the placebo effect. When participants in this crossover trial were assigned to placebo, they experienced nearly as many muscle-related side effects as they did when they were assigned to received a statin. The side effects were also of the same intensity. There may be a small increase in the incidence of side effects on statins versus placebo, but the large majority of muscle-related side effects are due to expectation bias—they’re not real. This has important implications for patients and clinicians using statin therapy.


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