Rosuvastatin Linked to Signs of Kidney Damage

Compared to atorvastatin, rosuvastatin was associated with higher risks of blood in the urine and kidney failure that requires replacement therapy.

Higher doses of rosuvastatin may have lasting and damaging effects on the kidneys, according to a study published in JASN based on patient health records.1

Rosuvastatin is in the statin class of drugs indicated to lower high cholesterol.1 Lower cholesterol in the blood can prevent heart attacks, strokes, and can even reduce the risk of heart disease fatality by 25%-35%.2

Functioning kidneys balance water and minerals in the blood and remove waste from blood.3 Damage to this organ creates dysbiosis because of waste and fluid buildup in the body.3 Common symptoms of damage include shortness of breath, swollen ankles, nausea, weakness, and poor sleep, but too much damage could cause life-threatening kidney failure.3

Other signs of kidney damage include hematuria and proteinuria, which were observed when rosuvastatin was approved by the FDA.1 For the study, Jung-Im Shin, MD, PhD, of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and colleagues examined electronic health record data from 2011-2019. Shin compared 152,101 new rosuvastatin users with 795,799 new users of a similar statin, atorvastatin.1

Researchers discovered that 2.9% of rosuvastatin patients experienced hematuria and 1.0% had proteinuria over 3.1 years of median follow-ups.1 Rosuvastatin was associated with a 17% higher risk of proteinuria than atorvastatin, along with posing an 8% higher risk of hematuria and 15% risk of kidney failure, which requires dialysis or transplantation replacement therapies.1

Researchers also discovered that physicians were overprescribing the recommended dose of rosuvastatin, as determined by the FDA, to patients with advanced kidney disease.1 Researchers found that patients’ risk of developing hematuria and proteinuria grew when the dose increased, and based off the study, 44% of patients were taking a higher dose than approved.1

“We observed a higher risk of hematuria, proteinuria, as well as kidney failure with rosuvastatin use and similar cardiovascular benefits between the rosuvastatin and atorvastatin groups,” Shin said.1 “Because rosuvastatin may cause proteinuria and hematuria, especially with high dose, high dose rosuvastatin may not merit the risk—even if small—particularly for patients with advanced kidney disease.”1

Statins block the liver enzyme function associated with producing cholesterol.2 Statins decrease low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and total cholesterol levels while inversely raising healthy high-density lipoprotein cholesterol that transports LDL out of the blood to be eliminated by the liver.2

References

1. Real-world data links rosuvastatin with signs of kidney damage. Eurkekalert. News Rekease. July 19, 2022. Accessed July 21, 2022. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/958785.

2. Fulgham Bruce PhD, Debra. Statin Side Effects. WebMD. Article. September 14, 2020. Accessed July 21, 2022. https://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/side-effects-of-statin-drugs#:~:text=Statins%20are%20a%20class%20of,about%2025%25%20to%2035%25.

3. Kidney Disease. WebMD. Article. Medically Reviewed August 08, 2020. Accessed July 21, 2022. https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/understanding-kidney-disease-basic-information#:~:text=When%20your%20kidneys%20are%20damaged,it%20can%20be%20life%2Dthreatening.