Healthy women who take statins have decreased risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke, according to a study in America. The finding could pressurise family doctors to prescribe statins to “healthy” patients.
A brand of the cholesterol-lowering drug called Crestor was shown to reduce the risk of cardiac events by as much as 46 per cent.
It is the first data to show that statins offer this protective effect in women. Statins are usually prescribed to patients who already have cardiovascular disease or those at high risk of developing the condition.
These patients are known to be at higher risk of cardiac events such as heart attack and stroke. GPs are now being told to assess all patients over the age of 40 and prescribe statins to all those at risk of developing the condition. However, the move towards this “primary prevention”, which is seen as mass medication of an otherwise healthy population, has attracted widespread concern.
And many health experts have said there is not enough evidence that the benefits for this group will outweigh the risk of side effects. Last year a trial called the Jupiter study revealed that both men and women would benefit from taking Crestor even if they did not have heart disease.
And the recent study has revealed more details, concentrating only on women patients. “Cardiovascular disease can be mistaken as an ‘old man’s disease’, while unfortunately the evidence suggests that people are suffering cardiovascular events younger and more women are at risk of developing the disease,” the Daily Express quoted Dr Sarah Jarvis, the Royal College of General Practitioners’ spokesperson for women’s health, as saying.
“There has long been support for the wider use of statins in women, but we didn’t have the outcomes data to support these recommendations. “This data is extremely exciting as this level of risk reduction among women has never been seen before in a primary prevention statin outcome trial,” she added.