The original article appears here. VR
STATINS, the controversial heart drugs, add only three days to a patient’s life, research reveals.
By Lucy Johnston, Daily Express
The study contradicts the widely held view that they save lives and last night health experts demanded a radical overhaul in the use of the drugs – which have been linked with severe and debilitating side-effects such as diabetes, muscle pain and cataracts – claiming the research reveals patients have been “misled” over “exaggerated” benefits.
The British Medical Journal, which published the findings, called for a review of prescribing guidelines for statins which are routinely given to up to 12 million patients.
Professor Jesper Hallas led the research, which assessed 11 major studies on statins, including patients at lower and high risk of heart disease. It followed patients for up to six years. The research compared patients who took the drugs with those who unknowingly took a placebo. It concluded: “Statin treatment results in a surprisingly small average gain in overall survival within the trials’ running time.”
Statins increased life expectancy by just three days for those people who did not already have a diagnosis of existing heart disease or associated symptoms. Patients who had already suffered a heart attack, stroke or associated symptoms increased their longevity by four days by taking statins.
Professor Hallas, an expert on medicines at the University of Southern Denmark, said: “I have heard a lot of patients complain they cannot tolerate statins and they are told they have to put up with it. If I suffered side-effects from statins I would stop taking them, even if I was at high risk of heart disease.”
However, he said more research was needed to confirm his findings. His team is now carrying out work to assess whether statins reduce the risk of non-fatal heart attacks and strokes.
British Medical Journal editor Dr Fiona Godlee said: “The recommendations for the prescribing of statins should be reviewed in the light of this information.”
Dr Aseem Malhotra, a London-based cardiologist who has analysed the effects of the cholesterol-busting drugs agreed. He said: “This study strongly suggests the benefits of statins have been grossly exaggerated.”
Dr Malcolm Kendrick, an expert on heart health, said: “Patients have been manipulated and misled over these drugs.”
Earlier this year this paper revealed statins have been linked to almost 20,000 reports of side-effects – including muscle pain, cataracts, liver dysfunction, diabetes, fatigue and memory loss – and 227 deaths.
Doctors are currently recommended to prescribe statins for anyone who has a 10 per cent risk of heart disease within a decade.