Cardiovascular disease (CVD) accounts for >17 million deaths globally every year, and this figure is predicted to rise to >23 million by 2030. Numerous studies have explored the relationship between cholesterol and CVD and there is now consensus that dyslipidaemia is a causal factor in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis.
Statins have become the cornerstone of the management of dyslipidaemia. Statins have proved to have a very good safety profile. The risk of adverse events is small compared to the benefits. Nevertheless, the potential risk of an adverse event occurring must be considered when prescribing and monitoring statin therapy to individual patients.
Statin-associated muscle disease (SAMS) is by far the most studied and the most common reason for discontinuation of therapy.
The reported incidence varies greatly, ranging between 5% and 29%. Milder disease is common and the more serious form, rhabdomyolysis is far rarer with an incidence of approximately 1 in 10,000. The pathophysiology of, and mechanisms leading to SAMS, are yet to be fully understood.
Literature points towards statin-induced mitochondrial dysfunction as the most likely cause of SAMS. However, the exact processes leading to mitochondrial dysfunction are not yet fully understood.
This paper details some of the different aetiological hypotheses put forward, focussing particularly on those related to mitochondrial dysfunction.