Statins may Offer Long-term Low Risk for Heart Attack

by Medindia Content Team on Oct 11 2007 6:41 PM

Researchers at the Glasgow University have revealed that patients who take statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs) have lesser risk of heart attack for a decade after they stop using them and perhaps even 'for life'.

The study has shown for the first time that patients who are on statin therapy for at least five years continue to have a lower risk of heart problems up to a decade later.

“We believe that this remarkable ongoing benefit is due to a stabilising of existing disease in the coronary arteries and significant slowing of further progression of disease,” the Daily Mail quoted Professor Ian Ford, lead author of the study, as saying.

“This benefit appears to have persisted for ten years and may have conferred a lifelong advantage on those treated with the statin,” he added.

The latest finding is based on a study, which involved 6,595 middle-aged men in Scotland who had high cholesterol levels but had not suffered a heart attack in the past.

Half of those men were prescribed statin for five years, while rest of the men were given a placebo, or dummy pill.

The first findings published in 1995 revealed that statins cut the risk of heart attack and death, but the patients' progress has now been followed for a further decade.

It was found that statins resulted in 27 per cent fall in non-fatal heart attacks and deaths due to heart disease.

“Remarkably, five years of treatment with a statin resulted in 27 per cent fewer nonfatal heart attacks or deaths due to heart disease over the period of 15 years,” Professor Ford said.

“There was a significant 12 per cent reduction in deaths over the entire period, with deaths due to heart disease reduced by 22 per cent.

'This suggests that statin treatment has a long-term beneficial effect in slowing the development of coronary artery disease,” he added.

Professor Stuart Cobbe, lead cardiologist in the study, said: 'We were very surprised to find that patients who had been treated for five years with a statin continued to have significantly fewer heart attacks and other coronary events compared to those treated with a placebo treatment.

“This benefit appeared to extend at least ten years after the original trial. These results are very reassuring for patients who might be concerned about safety when taking a drug for a very long period of time. There was no evidence of adverse health problems associated with taking a statin for five years,” he added.

However, the researchers also insist that the results of the study do not mean that patients should stop taking the treatment after five years.

The new finding is published in The New England Journal of Medicine.