Women with normal cholesterol levels could still benefit by taking a statin, a study shows.
Around 200,000 people a year die from the conditions of cardiovascular disease - that works out as one in three of all deaths in Britain.
But the research found that women taking the statin Crestor, also called rosuvastatin, could cut their risk of having a heart attack or stroke by almost half (46%).
Dr Sarah Jarvis, a GP and the Royal College of General Practitioners' spokesman for women's health, said: "Cardiovascular disease can be mistaken as an 'old man's' disease, while unfortunately the evidence suggests that people are suffering cardiovascular events younger and more women are at risk of developing the disease.
"There has long been support for the wider use of statins in women, but we didn't have the outcomes data to support these recommendations.
"This data is extremely exciting as this level of risk reduction among women has never been seen before in a primary prevention statin outcome trial."
The study was presented by the American Heart Association in Florida.