Study says Statins good for healthy heart too

Cholesterol lowering statins may help cut the risk of heart attack significantly even in healthy people, according to a new Oxford study published in The Lancet. A separate study in the US had found the similar results in April 2012. The findings suggest everyone over 50 should qualify for statin therapy and the international treatment guidelines for statins should be reconsidered. Many doctors already take the pills to control cholesterol in the blood, however statins on NHS prescription are restricted to patients considered to have at least 20 per cent risk of a non-fatal heart attack, stroke, or surgery to bypass or unblock damaged arteries.

The study involving about 175,000 people found that taking statins regularly cuts the risk of a heart attack or stroke by a fifth in those who have no signs of the disease. The researchers said treatment guidelines should be reviewed in light of the findings, and there should also be a blanket policy of prescribing all over 50 people statins.

The authors, led by Professor Colin Baigent wrote: “This benefit greatly exceeds any known hazards of statin therapy. Under present guidelines, such individuals would not typically be regarded as suitable for LDL-lowering statin therapy. The present report suggests, therefore, that these guidelines might need to be reconsidered.”

Dr Juan Casas and Professor Shah Ebrahim both from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, wrote: “Because most people older than 50 years are likely to be at a greater than 10 per cent 10-year risk of CVD (cardio-vascular disease), it would be more pragmatic to use age as the only indicator of statin prescription.”

June Davison, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Those who already have heart disease, or are at high risk, are offered statins because it’s well established they help to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. This large-scale research found even people at low risk of heart disease could benefit from statin therapy. The findings will help to inform policy and treatment guidelines in the future.”

A Department of Health spokesman said, “We keep all new research under consideration. Nice (National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence, which assesses the cost effectiveness of NHS treatments) regularly reviews its published guidance in order to take account of new evidence.”

Medical Specialists Pharmacy provides online consultations for high cholesterol, and for suitable patients our house doctors can prescribe statin medication (Lipitor and Crestor), and our in house pharmacists can dispense to patients within 24 hours. We also dispense statins for patients who can provide a private prescription, and have recently introduced the legally available generic Atorvastatin at much lower prices for suitable patients.

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