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18-01-2011 | General practice | Article

Wider benefit of statins questioned


Cochrane Library

The benefit of statins for prevention of cardiovascular disease in healthy people have been called into question by researchers.

Their review of 14 primary prevention trials in over 34,000 patients, most of whom were at low cardiovascular risk, found that statins were associated with reduced all-cause mortality and composite cardiovascular endpoints in line with cholesterol reductions.

But Dr Fiona Taylor and colleagues say the trials were hampered by unclear, selective and potentially biased reporting, often failing to report adverse events. Some also included people with existing cardiovascular disease.

In their review, published in the Cochrane Library, the team concludes: "Only limited evidence showed that primary prevention with statins may be cost effective and improve patient quality of life."

Taylor, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, commented: "This review highlights important shortcomings in our knowledge about the effects of statins in people who have no previous history of cardiovascular disease.

"The decision to prescribe statins in this group should not be taken lightly."

GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Caroline Price