Statins linked to reduction in strokes and deaths

This year alone we have heard in the news just how beneficial statins could be in a huge range of health conditions such as helping to thwart cancer in heart transplant patients, possibly helping to cut the risk of Parkinson’s disease, and even some doctors have put forth the argument that everybody could benefit from a daily intake of statins. Now, researchers have uncovered more evidence that shows how cholesterol-lowering statins such as Crestor and Lipitor can help to reduce strokes and death in men and women, but maybe more-so in males.

The new report on statins has been published in the June 25 edition of ‘Archives of Internal Medicine’. For the study, Dr Jose Gutierrez and his team from the Columbia University, U.S. studied information collated from 11 different trials, involving over 43,000 subjects. All patients’ records were from prior to September 2010 and they had been treated for a variety of problems such as a prior heart attack or stroke, cardiovascular disease and peripheral artery disease. Statins that had been administered in the studies included pravastatin, atorvastatin and simvastatin.

Within the studies Dr Gutierrez and his colleagues had analysed, men and women at risk of suffering another stroke or heart attack were randomly given either a statin or a placebo, which was free of any drug ingredient. Both sexes were discovered to be roughly 18 to 19% less likely to suffer from any cardiovascular-related problem. It was determined that 7% of those who took statins had suffered another heart attack in comparison to 10% on the placebo. In addition, males taking the statins were found to have a 19% reduced chance of having a stroke and 21% less likely to die than the patients taking a placebo.

Similar results were shown in females across both groups; however the margins were much smaller. Dr Gutierrez spoke out on the findings, “Statin therapy reduces the recurrence of cardiovascular events rate in both men and women. For women, the reduction in the recurrence rate of stroke and all-cause mortality is less robust than in men.” Less effectiveness for statins has been linked to a few reasons though, such as only a fifth of the total subjects being made up of women. In addition, some of the women had much worse cardiovascular profiles than the men, and not all women were taking a daily aspirin tablet, which some doctors recommend you take if you have had a heart attack or stroke. Dr Gutierrez further added, “Other factors, such as differences in hormonal profiles or sex-specific characteristics, are not ruled out, but these issues cannot be addressed with the result of this meta-analysis.”

Some people have hit out at the implications of the report though. For example, Dr. Tara Narula, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, highlighted the apparent limitations of the studies. She said, “Statins are beneficial for men and women, they work equally in men and women” and also added that the results could be a little misleading as the researchers had looked at studies that included much older and sicker female patients.

These studies were primarily focused on patients who had already suffered a heart attack or stroke. If you are suffering from high cholesterol, you can act today to prevent yourself from experiencing any cardiovascular disease which can then lead to a heart attack or stroke. The World Health Organisation has estimated that nearly 20% of all strokes and over 50% of all heart attacks can be attributed to high cholesterol so clearly the dangers of this are quite apparent.

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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