A new study has revealed that statins, which are normally given to people with high cholesterol levels to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, can be equally beneficial for people with lower cholesterol levels.
The research team has found that statins were able to reduce heart attack and stroke risk by almost 44 pct in people with high inflammation but normal cholesterol levels.
The study involving 17,800 men and women with normal cholesterol levels showed that rosuvastatin could cut deaths from heart attacks and strokes.
After a two-year follow up, the researchers found that 20mg a day of rosuvastatin could cut C-reactive protein levels by 37pct.
Dr Terry McCormack, a GP in Whitby, North Yorkshire, and ex-chairman of the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society, said that the results were "astonishing" and much stronger than he had expected.
"These are people who have an intermediate risk and you wouldn't normally prescribe statins for them in the UK," the BBC quoted him as saying.
"It opens up a whole new debate and the trial probably raises more questions than it answers," he added.
Professor Peter Sever, an expert in clinical pharmacology at Imperial College in London, said that the results backed other studies that had previously shown that statins had the same proportional benefit however low an individual's cholesterol.
Dr Alan McDougall, from AstraZeneca that funded the study, said that there was "no question" the trial would raise some important issues about statins' use but that they would recommend doctors still follow existing guidance.
The results are published in the New England Journal of Medicine.