MONDAY, June 28 (HealthDay News) -- Despite being used widely to lower cholesterol levels, statins don't appear to reduce the chances of death in people at risk of developing cardiovascular disease, British scientists have found.
Statins are used widely to treat and prevent cardiovascular disease. They are given both to people with heart disease and -- in more recent years -- to those who are at risk for heart disease but who have no history of it.
In people with a history of heart disease, statin therapy is known to reduce the risk of complications from the illness and premature death, the British researchers noted. But they said their new meta-analysis of previously published studies -- along with the known risks that statins pose to certain people -- calls into question the benefits of statins to prevent the development of heart disease.
One U.S. expert said the findings need to be taken in context.
"Statin therapy has been demonstrated in individual randomized clinical trials and in pooled analysis to prevent fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular events in individuals without established cardiovascular disease," said Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, director of the Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center at the University of California, Los Angeles.
"In eligible men and women without contraindications, statin therapy -- along with lifestyle modifications-- represents one of the most effective means to prevent myocardial infarction [heart attack] and stroke," he said.
This new analysis examined a number of primary prevention trials to determine, during the first few years after statin therapy is initiated, whether there is a reduction in deaths from all causes, Fonarow noted.
"As expected, with primary prevention studies having only a mean duration of follow-up of 3.7 years, a reduction in all-cause mortality was not observed," he said. "To detect a reduction in al
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