High Dose Statins will cut Early Deaths

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Full Name: Kannivelu Badrinath
Name of Your College/Medical School: Madras Medical College, Madras, India

High Dose Statins will cut Early Deaths

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Yet another study published by researchers from Stanford University in California confirms that high dose statins will cut the risk of dying by a large number. The researchers say there is a ‘substantial opportunity’ to prevent more deaths through wider use of stronger pills.

Sufferers of a common heart condition were almost 30 per cent less likely to die within a year if they had a high statin dose than those on a low one, a study found. Doctors are reluctant to prescribe the strongest pills unless patients have a very high risk of heart attack and stroke as the side effects are more severe.

The side effects include muscle tissue damage – and tenderness and soreness – and there is some evidence they harm the kidneys.

Researchers from Stanford University in California looked at 509,766 adults on statins to treat a common type of heart disease (atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) caused by the blood vessels becoming clogged with fatty substances. Some 30 per cent were classified as being on ‘high intensity’ statin therapy, 46 per cent moderate and the remainder on low intensity.

The high intensity group were 20 per cent less likely to die within a year compared to those on the moderate dose. Compared to the low dose group, they were 29 per cent less at risk of dying within a year.

The majority of patients on statins take between 5 to 40 micrograms a day, depending on the type of tablet. This study, involved half a million adults on dosages of up to 80 mg daily. Dr Paul Heidenreich, whose study is published in JAMA Cardiology, said: ‘These findings suggest there is a substantial opportunity for improvement in the secondary prevention of ASCVD through optimization of intensity of statin therapy.’

An estimated six million adults in Britain are thought to be taking statins to prevent heart attacks. There has been controversy over their safety and some experts claim the risks outweigh the benefits. Common side effects include severe muscle pain, type 2 diabetes, kidney damage, liver failure and even death. However the benefits of statins are hugely underestimated and far outweigh any harm, the biggest ever review into their use found last month.

According to Oxford University researchers, the cheap daily pills prevent at least 80,000 heart attacks and strokes in the UK every year. Thousands more can be helped if a greater number of patients were persuaded to take them.

Today’s study classified ‘high intensity’ statins as being between 40 and 80 mg of atorvastatin, 20 to 40 mg of rosuvastatin or 80 mg of simvastatin.

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘Heart disease is incurable – we have no way to reverse the furring of the arteries that can lead to a deadly heart attack or stroke. ‘But decades of research, much of it funded by the British Heart Foundation, show that statins can help save lives by slowing the progression of the disease.

‘This large study showed that more intensive statin treatment reduced death rates further than low-intensity or no treatment in people with cardiovascular disease. ‘While this research confirms the greater benefit of more intensive treatment, decisions on dosage require conversations between patients and their doctors.’

A major study in the Lancet earlier this year claimed the benefits of statins by far outweighed the risk and prevented 80,000 heart attacks and strokes a year. But the confusion intensified a week later when rival medical journal the BMJ insisted the pills weren’t as safe as that research had insisted. 
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