An international team of researchers concluded that cholesterol-lowering statins may support good cardiovascular health in a wide range of patients, including those who are at low risk for heart disease, as reported by HealthDay. These results may have implications for the healthcare marketing of these drugs.
More than 16 percent of American adults have high cholesterol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate of heart disease among these individuals is twice that of people who have optimal cholesterol.
Typically, doctors prescribe statins only to patients who have at least a 20 percent risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event within 10 years, according to the news source. However, a team of scientists conducted a review of 27 previous clinical trials in order to get a better idea of who may benefit from these medications.
The researchers divided a combined 175,000 study participants into five groups, differentiated by their risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event within five years, ranging from less than 5 percent to greater than 30 percent.
Results showed that within all five groups, the risk of a heart attack, stroke or other event fell by more than 20 percent. Even among those who had a cardiovascular risk of less than 10 percent, each 1 mmol/L reduction in LDL cholesterol levels cut the number of vascular events by 11 per 1000 over five years.
"Under present guidelines, such individuals would not typically be regarded as suitable for LDL-lowering statin therapy. The present report suggests, therefore, that these guidelines might need to be reconsidered," the researchers wrote in their report, which is published in The Lancet.
Other results showed that statins may cause a slight risk increase for hemorrhagic stroke and diabetes. However, the researchers stated that the benefits outweigh these risks. Furthermore, they found no greater prevalence of cancer resulting from these drugs.