Severe Irritability Associated with Statin Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs

Published in: QJM, v. 97, no. 4, Apr. 2004, p. 229-235

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2003

by Beatrice A. Golomb, T Kane, Joel E. Dimsdale

Read More

Access further information on this document at qjmed.oxfordjournals.org

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

BACKGROUND: As use of a drug becomes widespread, the full spectrum of its effects becomes clearer. Although a link has been suggested between low or lowered cholesterol and irritability/aggression, less is known about possible links between irritability and statins. Aim: To assess the possible connection of statin usage to severe irritability. DESIGN: Case series. METHODS: Six patients referred or self-referred with irritability and short temper on statin cholesterol-lowering drugs completed a survey providing information on character of behavioural effect, time-course of onset and recovery, and factors relevant to drug adverse effect causality. RESULTS: In each case the personality disruption, once evident, was sustained until statin use was discontinued; and resolved promptly with drug cessation. In four patients, re-challenge with statins occurred, and led to recrudescence of the problem. All patients experienced other recognized statin adverse effects while on the drug. Manifestations of severe irritability included homicidal impulses, threats to others, road rage, generation of fear in family members, and damage to property. DISCUSSION: Case series invariably raise more questions than they can answer. These case reports suggest that severe irritability may occur in some statin users. Although this adverse effect may be rare, potentially life-threatening adverse effects of drugs must be taken seriously.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation external publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.