Statins have been considered as a safe and effective treatment for those with heart disease. It is now even being used increasingly as a preventive measure for heart disease, even among those who are at low risk of the said condition. But recent research has found out that the benefits of using statins for those with no prior history of heart disease may be questionable at best.
Cardiovascular disease is considered as a common cause of death worldwide. That is why statins and their cholesterol lowering properties have provided effective first line treatments for those who are at risk of developing the said disease. But the use of statins as a preventive measure to avoid heart disease has not yet been established. In fact the use of statins for those without heart disease should be treated with caution, that is, according to the new Cochrane Systematic Review.
The said review involved researchers studying data coming from 14 trials involving a total of 34,272 patients. The outcomes for patients given statins are compared to those outcomes in patients that are given the usual care as well as placebos. The data did show that statins reduced the risk of dying from 9 to 8 deaths for every 1000 people treated annually with statins. But the data mostly involved patients who already have heart problems.
According to Fiona Taylor, from the Cochrane Heart Group at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London, UK and lead researcher for the study, “It is not as simple as just extrapolating the effects from studies in people who have a history of heart disease. This review highlights important shortcomings in our knowledge about the effects of statins in people who have no previous history of CVD. The decision to prescribe statins in this group should not be taken lightly.”
Source: Wiley-Blackwell. “Statins: Benefits questionable in low-risk patients, review finds.” ScienceDaily 20 January 2011. 21 January 2011 <http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2011/01/110118200808.htm