Step-by-step diagnosis and management of the nocebo/drucebo effect in statin-associated muscle symptoms patients: a position paper from the International Lipid Expert Panel (ILEP)


Statin intolerance is a clinical syndrome whereby adverse effects (AEs) associated with statin therapy [most commonly statin-associated muscle symptoms (SAMS)] result in the discontinuation of therapy and consequently increase the risk of adverse cardiovascular outcomes. However, complete statin intolerance occurs in only a small minority of treated patients (estimated prevalence of only 3–5%). Many perceived AEs are misattributed (e.g. physical musculoskeletal injury and inflammatory myopathies), and subjective symptoms occur as a result of the fact that patients expect them to do so when taking medicines (the nocebo/drucebo effect)—what might be truth even for over 50% of all patients with muscle weakness/pain. Clear guidance is necessary to enable the optimal management of plasma in real-world clinical practice in patients who experience subjective AEs. In this Position Paper of the International Lipid Expert Panel (ILEP), we present a step-by-step patient-centred approach to the identification and management of SAMS with a particular focus on strategies to prevent and manage the nocebo/drucebo effect and to improve long-term compliance with lipid-lowering therapy.

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