Monday, August 19, 2013

Four million patients on statins don't need them: Half of those on cholesterol-reduction pills risk side effects with little chance of benefit, doctors warn

Up to four million people have been wrongly placed on statins, putting them at risk of side effects with little chance they will benefit from the drugs, doctors warned last night.

More than half of patients put on the cholesterol-lowering pills to prevent  a first heart attack or stroke are in fact ‘ineligible’ for the treatment, a  Birmingham University study found.

It suggests that more than £100 million a year is being wasted because GPs have a scatter-gun approach to prescribing the drugs.

Not so great after all? More than half of patients put on the cholesterol-lowering pills to prevent a first heart attack or stroke are in fact 'ineligible' for the treatment, a Birmingham University study found 

Not so great after all? More than half of patients put on the cholesterol-lowering pills to prevent a first heart attack or stroke are in fact 'ineligible' for the treatment, a Birmingham University study found

Over the past decade the number of people in Britain on statins has risen from five to eight million. The drugs lower the risk of heart attack and stroke in those at medium and high risk, but they can also produce side effects in up to a fifth of takers.

These can include muscle pain, fatigue, stomach upsets, sleep disturbance and erectile dysfunction.

The study, based on data from 365,000 patients at 421 GP practices and published in the journal PloS ONE, found six in ten statin prescriptions to prevent first heart attack or stroke go to ‘ineligible patients’, such as  middle-aged people with raised cholesterol but no other risk factors.

Side effects of statins can include muscle pain, fatigue, stomach upsets, sleep disturbance and erectile dysfunction (file picture).

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