Don’t stop taking statins, doctors urge

Statins study questioning usage prompts medical warning


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Statins are often prescribed for people with, or have a risk of developing, cardiovascular disease.

Statins are often prescribed for people with, or have a risk of developing, cardiovascular disease.

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A new study questions the use of statins in the over 75s, but doctors maintain it's wrong.

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DOCTORS are warning seniors not to stop taking statins following a study questioning their use in elderly patients.

Conducted by Spanish researchers from University of Girona and published in The BMJ on September 6, the study claims statins are not associated with a reduction in cardiovascular disease or death in healthy people over 75.

The researchers say their results show there is no reason why those without heart disease should take statins, unless they also have type 2 diabetes and are aged between 75 and 84.

They came to this conclusion after analysing data from the Catalan primary health care system database of 46,864 people over 75 with no history of heart disease between 2006 and 2015.

But the observational study has drawn criticism from the medical and academic community. 

Cardiologist and Associate Professor of Medicine at University of Queensland David Colquhoun said the authors were wrong.

“This ‘study’ does not add anything at all to the literature regarding efficacy of lipid lowering therapy” Dr Colquhoun said.

“Absolutely this study should not be used to support the ‘arguments’. This is not a research study, it is ‘data dredging’ from computer records.

“It is difficult to understand how a respected medical journal such as The BMJ could publish poor research and allow unsubstantiated statements to be made which are incorrect and have important consequences regarding cardiovascular health,” Dr Colquhoun said.

He said the research was likely to lead to negative statin stories in the media, which could cause repercussions with patients – as was the case in 2013 when a similar story aired on the ABC.

“After an incorrect Catalyst story, in Australia it was documented that about 1.5 million people watched the program and between 1500 and 3000 patients had a heart attack or stroke who otherwise would not have had such events.”

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