The Lancet medical magazine has recently published an article arguing that everyone over 50 should take statins to lower their cholesterol.
This is based on a number of trails that concluded that statins significantly reduced the risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular illnesses without having major side effects and risks. Some research points to heart attacks being reduced by 44% when given to healthy subjects (Jupiter clinical trial) but some experts are sceptical as they believe the trail was stopped early which could have lead to a more positive outcome. The current analysis was designed to confirm the benefits. “Our aim was to bring together all the available evidence,” explains co-author Colin Baigent, an epidemiologist at the University of Oxford in England.
After pooling the results of 27 trials involving 165,149 people, the analysis reported that people are 21 percent less likely to suffer a serious vascular event such as a heart attack, stroke or bypass surgery after their cholesterol drops by the amount that might be expected after taking statins for a year than are similar people who do not take the pills. But such outcomes are rare in healthy individuals anyway, so the risk reduction actually translated to a small clinical benefit — reducing the overall risk from 4.04 percent to 3.27 percent per year, a difference of 0.77 percent.
In other words, approximately 130 people need to take statins for a year to prevent just one unwanted health outcome, and 500 people have to take them to prevent a single death. “Once you get down to very low levels of risk, the benefits are very small,” Baigent admits.
What’s your view? We would be interested to hear from doctors on Silverhairs