Statins for the over 50’s

A leading British expert has said that Statins should be given to everyone over 50 regardless of their health because they dramatically reduce the risks of heart attacks and strokes for this age group and that in major trial evidence from 130,000 people who took Statins showed that they are safe.

Professor Sir Rory Collins is the lead author of the world’s largest study to investigate how Statins can help prevent cardiovascular disease by cutting levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood.

The risk of having a major cardiovascular event such as a heart attack is cut by one-fifth for each 1.0mmol/L (millimoles per litre) fall in LDL and Professor Collins has said that there is evidence from the study that Statins should even be given all  healthy people over 50 to reduce the risk of Cardiovascular diseases.

Prof Collins said at a keynote speech in Munich at the European Cardiology Congress in Munich that “several evidences support the fact that the drug (Statins) should even be recommended to healthy people” and that ‘If you start treatment earlier and continue for longer the benefits will be much greater, you’re not trying to unfur the arteries, you’re preventing them from furring in the first place’. He also noted that, “Current guidelines on their use – and misguided safety fears about muscle pain and memory loss – are restricting the range of people who can take them”. Trial data shows only one significant side effect, which is muscle pain, which affects one in 10,000 patients, said Prof Collins.

Research earlier this year co-ordinated by the Clinical Trial Service Unit Oxford University, where Prof Collins is co-director, reviewed findings from 27 Statin trials involving 175,000 people, some of whom were at low risk of heart problems.

The drugs cut the risk of heart attacks, strokes and operations to unblock arteries by one third or more.

The benefits were gained no matter what level of cholesterol patients started out with. Healthier people who were given Statins also had lower overall death rates than those who were given a placebo.

It concluded the positives greatly exceeded any side-effects from taking the drugs.

More than eight million adults in the UK are already taking Statins, but it is estimated that regular use by the over 50’s would lead to 10,000 fewer heart attacks and strokes a year, including 2,000 fewer deaths in the UK.

The small cost of the drugs – as low as £16 a year – would be outweighed by NHS savings due to the reduced number of heart attacks and strokes.

At present, Statins are restricted to those with at least a 20 per cent risk of having a heart attack or stroke over the next five years.


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What’s your view – should we all be taking Statins and should the NHS pay for them?



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