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Healthy patients using statins are ‘more likely to suffer side-effects than gain health benefits’

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Fewer than one in every 200 healthy patients who take statins actually benefit, doctors have warned.

Reigniting the debate over the cholesterol-busting drugs, the experts warn that too many patients are given statins without proper information about their drawbacks.

They say people should stop using them if they are suffering side effects – and call for patients to have a greater choice over taking the pills in the first place.

People should be advised to take up more exercise and improve their diet before they are directed towards statins, the experts say.

Their editorial, published last night in the Prescriber medical journal, points to industry-sponsored studies which found that only 0.5 per cent of healthy people avoided a heart attack or stroke by taking statins for five years.

While accepting that those with a history of heart disease can benefit from statins, they say that a tiny minority of people who take it as a ‘preventative’ medicine will actually live longer.

The authors – London cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra, Canadian pharmacist Professor James McCormack, and US physician Professor David Newman – called for a complete rewrite of British and American guidance.

Their editorial will add fuel to the controversy raging over the use of statins.

 

 

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