This site is intended for health professionals only

Statins benefit low-risk patients

Statins should be given to people without established cardiovascular disease but with risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes, concludes a study published on today.

The benefits of statin therapy in patients with established cardiovascular disease (known as secondary prevention) have been clearly demonstrated, but it is still not clear whether treating lower risk people without established disease (known as primary prevention) would also be worthwhile.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, set out to investigate whether statins reduced deaths and major cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes in people without established heart disease.

An international team of researchers looked at the results of 10 large trials involving over 70,000 patients that compared statin therapy with a placebo or control group, over a period of about four years.

The results showed that statins cut deaths from all causes by 12% and cut the risk of major events by 30% in patients without established heart disease, when compared with a placebo.

Researchers found no significant treatment differences between men and women, elderly and young patients, and those with and without diabetes. There was also no evidence of an increased risk of cancer with statin therapy.

The authors of the study said the results were similar to previous research into the effects of statins on patients with established cardiovascular disease.