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Statins 'lower mortality risk in patients without cardiovascular disease'

By Lilian Anekwe

Statins can significantly reduce the risk in patients with no established cardiovascular disease, a study published online by BMJ this week shows.

A team of international researchers analysed the results of ten large trials, including ALLHAT and ASCOT, of over 70,000 patients to see if statins reduce deaths and major cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes, in people without established heart disease.

At least 80% of participants did not have established cardiovascular disease, although 23% did have diabetes. Mean follow-up continued for just over four years.

Statin treatment reduced deaths from all causes by 12%, and lowered the risk of strokes by 19% and major coronary events by 30%, compared to controls.

Researchers said further work is needed to determine what group of people would benefit most from long term statin use, but the study suggests that men over 65 years with risk factors, or older women with diabetes and risk factors, could significantly benefit.

Lead researcher Dr Jasper Brugts, resident cardiologist at the Erasmus meducal centre in Rotterdam, Netherlands, told Pulse: ‘Our data suggests that people without established CVD should not be denied the relative benefits of long term statin use.'

‘However, the exact threshold for cost-effectiveness of such treatment should be investigated further and probably depends on the level of risk for cardiovascular disease due to specific combinations of risk factors for CVD.'

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