London: The use of statins in patients
without a prior history of heart attacks and strokes is of
little real benefit in preventing deaths in the short term,
the largest study of its type to date has found.
Researchers from the University of Cambridge and St
George`s Hospital, London analysed data from 65,000
participants around the world in 11 randomised controlled
The 65,000 individuals, none of whom had suffered heart
attacks or strokes previously, were nonetheless those
considered to be at high risk of suffering from them in later
life (eg older individuals, those with diabetes etc).
Contrary to previous reports based on more limited data,
the researchers found that short-term use of statins for about
4-5 years had a borderline effect on preventing deaths from
any cause (about seven deaths prevented for every 10,000
people treated for one year).
The findings are published in the Archives of Internal
Cambridge University`s Dr Sreenivasa Rao Kondapally
Seshasai said, "Statins lower bad cholesterol and reduce the
risk of death among those who have experienced heart attacks
and strokes before.
"However, some believe that the use of statins may be
harmful, with little conclusive proof on their benefits and
risks to those in high-risk groups who have not had such an
Nevertheless, longer-term follow up of several studies
does show mortality benefits in people without prior
established vascular diseases.
"We believe that the present data confirm the overall
safety profile of statins in healthy people and suggest that
in the short-term at least the large mortality benefits of
statins in established vascular disease cannot be extrapolated
to primary prevention settings (ie to individuals who have not
yet had a heart attack or stroke).
"The present findings may inform health economic
considerations before extending the present guidance on
primary prevention to lower risk settings".
Statins are a class of drug used to lower plasma