Are Liver Tests Needed in Pediatric Patients Receiving Statin Therapy?

A recent study (NK Desai et al. JPGN 2019; 68: 175-81) showed excellent safety of statins with regard to hepatotoxicity. This study utilized prospectively collected ALT values from the Preventive Cardiology Program at Boston Children’s and their lipid program from 2010 until 2014.  They included 943 patients (mean age 14 years) with 111 always on statin, 97 started on statin, and 735 never on a statin.

Key findings:

  • In this cohort with dyslipidemia, there was no higher burden of ALT elevations among pediatric patients receiving statin therapy compared to those who did not receive statin therapy.
  • Patients with ALT values ≥5 times ULN were not increased among patients receiving statins (n=3) compared to those who did not receiving statins (n=13)
  • Mean ALT was actually greater in the non-statin cohort by 2 U/L but likely related to the increased frequency of obesity in the non-statin group.

My take: Due to the high prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), it is likely that most patients who need statin therapy would get liver biochemistries; however, this study suggests that additional monitoring is not required in asymptomatic patients who receive statins for dyslipidemia.

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