Around 8 million Britons and 32 Americans take cholesterol-lowering pills every day to reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke.  But up to half of patients are thought to stop taking the drug due to suspected side effects, which can include muscle aches, digestive problems and headaches.  Now, researchers have found that quitting the drugs could reduce the lifetime protection they provide against cardiovascular problems because the drugs provide the most benefit later in life.

Statins should be taken for LIFE, study finds

Statins should be dispensed for life, study suggests.

Patients who suddenly stop taking cholesterol-lowering drugs risk losing most of the protection they give to the heart.

This is because the main benefits of cheap pills don’t show up until later in life, scientists say.

About 8 million Britons and 32 million Americans take statins every day to reduce their risk of heart complications from high blood pressure.

But up to half of patients are thought to stop taking the drug due to suspected side effects, which can include muscle aches, digestive problems and headaches.

Dr Runguo Wu, lead author from Queen Mary University of London, said: “Discontinuation of treatment, unless advised by a physician, does not appear to be a wise choice.”

Around 8 million Britons and 32 Americans take cholesterol-lowering pills every day to reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke. But up to half of patients are thought to stop taking the drug due to suspected side effects, which can include muscle aches, digestive problems and headaches. Now, researchers have found that quitting the drugs could reduce the lifetime protection they provide against cardiovascular problems because the drugs provide the most benefit later in life.

WHAT ARE STATINS?

Statins are a group of drugs that can help lower levels of “bad cholesterol” in the blood.

Having too much of this type of cholesterol — called low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — can lead to thickened arteries and cardiovascular disease.

Statins work by preventing the liver from producing as much LDL.

Previous studies have shown the drug will prevent one heart attack or stroke in 50 people taking it over five years.

The medicine comes in the form of a tablet to be taken once a day.

Most people need to take them for life because stopping them will cause their cholesterol levels to return to a high level within a few weeks.

Some people experience side effects from the drug, including diarrhea, headache, or nausea.

People are usually told to make lifestyle changes aimed at lowering their cholesterol – such as improving their diet and exercise habits, limiting their alcohol intake and quitting smoking – before seeing each other. prescribe statins.

Statins are a group of drugs that prevent the liver from producing “bad” cholesterol, known as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

Over time, its buildup can lead to hardened, narrowed arteries and heart disease – one of the leading causes of death worldwide.

People are currently being prescribed statins if they have been diagnosed with the disease or have a family history.

The tablets, which cost just 20 pence a pill and have been shown to be life-saving, are taken once a day.

Patients who stop taking them can see their cholesterol skyrocket within weeks.

However, many people stop taking them or use them irregularly for fear of side effects.

The researchers looked at how their effectiveness decreased when patients stopped the drugs.

They used data on 118,000 participants included in international statin trials and half a million included in the UK Biobank – a database of medical and genetic records.

They created a mathematical model that calculated the annual risk of heart attack and stroke for each participant.

Experts tried to calculate what would happen if participants stopped taking a daily dose at age 80, compared to those who took them for life.

At the same time, they compared delaying statin use by five years.

The benefits were measured in quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) – the extra years of life lived in perfect health.

The results, due to be presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Barcelona on Saturday, show that most QALYs from statins accrued later in life.

Patients who stopped taking the drug when they turned 80 “wiped out much of the potential benefit.”

People in their 50s at low cardiovascular risk who stop taking the drug at age 80 lose three-quarters of the QALYs they would have had had they continued taking the drug.

And those at high cardiovascular risk who stop their daily statin pill at age 80 lose a third of their extra years of health the drug provides.

Those with low cardiovascular risk who delayed taking statins by five years lost only 2% of the drug’s benefit.

But those at high risk who postponed their start-up lost 7% of profits.

Dr Wu said: “This is because people at higher cardiovascular risk begin to benefit early and have more to lose by delaying statin therapy than those at lower risk.”

He called on people in their 40s at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease and people of all ages with existing heart disease to consider taking statins immediately.

Many doctors say the potential side effects of statins are exaggerated and proponents, including health watchdog NICE, say the pills should be prescribed more widely to prevent thousands of premature deaths.

However, others worry about the potential long-term damage.

The drugs have been linked to diabetes and memory loss.

And Scores are uncomfortable with what they describe as the “overmedicalization” of middle-aged people, which sees statins handed out “just in case” patients have heart problems later in life.

Statins should be taken for LIFE, study finds

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