Statins’ heart benefits endure for up to a decade
STATIN therapy in men continues to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events up to 10 years after ceasing treatment, experts say.Original data from a randomised study found 40 mg of pravastatin taken daily for five years decreased the risk of death from heart disease or a non-fatal heart attack from 7.9% to 5.5% compared to placebo.
The Scottish study involved more than 6500 middle-aged men with no history of heart attacks.
A post-trial follow-up showed these positive benefits continued, and after 10 years those treated with pravastatin had an 8.6% risk of cardiovascular events compared to 10.3% on placebo. After 15 years the benefit of treatment in comparison to placebo remained.
Once the original trial ended, both pravastatin and placebo were withdrawn and patients returned to standard care.
After 10 years, approximately 37% of those in the original statin and placebo group were receiving statin treatment (N Engl J Med 2007;357:1477-86).
Professor Leon Simons, director of the lipid clinic at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital, said the ongoing benefits of statin therapy were “reassuring” and pravastatin also appeared to be safe in relation to long-term risk of death from non-cardiovascular causes or cancer.
“It is likely that the ‘durable effects’ of pravastatin beyond study closure are applicable to all statins,” he said.
He commented that the low statin use reported at 10 years highlighted the need for GPs to encourage patients to continue, despite the long-term benefits demonstrated in the study.
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