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Fear of statins 'putting patients at risk'

29th August 2012

A leading expert has said that everyone over the age of 50 should consider taking statins to reduce the risk of a heart attack because the possible side effects have been exaggerated.

Speaking after giving his keynote lecture at the European Society of Cardiology’s annual congress in Munich, Sir Rory Collins from Oxford University said that taking cholesterol-lowering statins before warning signs start to appear could provide much more protection from heart attacks or stroke.

Sir Rory was critical of medical regulators saying they had overstated the possible side-effects from the drugs and that most of them had not been proven in clinical trials.

He rejected suggestions from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency that statins can cause sleep disturbances, memory loss, sexual dysfunction, depression, lung disease, cataracts, diabetes, memory loss and confusion, and wanted guidelines on statin use scrapped.

Current guidance encourages GPs to prescribe statins to patients with more than a 20% chance of heart attack or stroke.

Sir Rory said statins are “remarkably safe” and added: “There is an argument being made that if we start treatment earlier and continue for a longer time then the benefits will be much greater. You are not trying to un-fur arteries, you are preventing them from furring in the first place.

“If you start at a younger age, then if you keep on with the treatment you may get more benefit than if you wait. I think the age of about 50 is the age to start thinking about it.”

 

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