Previous research has shown that sleep deprivation can raise insulin resistance and cause weight gain, potentially increasing diabetes risk.
GPs should consider changing statins and report the adverse event in any patients on simvastatin who show sleep disturbances, Dr Beatrice Golomb, from the University of California told delegates at the American Heart Association (AHA) scientific sessions.
‘If they’re having sleep problems then it might be prudent to think of changing medication to a different statin,’ she said.
Sleep deprivation, as with all adverse effects of statins, should be considered by policy makers when making blanket recommendations for statin use, added Dr Golomb.
This casts doubt on the wide-reaching effects of the DoH push for GPs to switch patients to simvastatin to save NHS money.
It has been estimated that the switch could save up to £2 billion over five years.
For the double-blind trial, 1,000 men and women with moderately high LDL-cholesterol levels of 115-190 mg/dl were randomly assigned to 20mg simvastatin, 40mg pravastatin or placebo for six months.
The patients had no known cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
Using a visual analogue scale of sleep quality called the Leeds scale, researchers measured perceived sleep quality at baseline.
Any change in sleep quality was assessed at six-month follow-up.
While all three groups had comparable sleep quality at baseline, simvastatin was associated with significantly worse sleep quality and more reported sleep problems than placebo or pravastatin, with sleep worsening by an average of 10 per cent.
In around 5 per cent of patients the outcomes were severe, leading to a 15 per cent worsening of sleep quality.
More details on the Scientific Sessions 2007 website
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