Anyone who has worried about his or her cholesterol, and certainly those who have had heart problems, have heard of statins!
Should healthy people take Statins?

  • Various news organizations estimate that currently many millions of Americans are taking statins

  • It has been sugested that more agressive treatment of high cholesterol, involving a total of 36 million Americans should be taking them.

  • What real information is available to help you decide if you need to take statins?

To provide the necessary information, we start by summarizing three articles ("papers") in prominent medical journals:

  1. JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), Vol 288, no.23 p 2998,2002 (The ALLHAT Study).

  2. The Lancet, Vol 360, p 1623, 2002 (The PROSPER Study).

  3. The Lancet, Vol 361, p 1149, 2003 (The ASCOT Study).

ALLHAT (Antihypertensive and Lipid Lowering treatment to prevent Heart Attack Trial) 10355 patients, aged 55 and older (mean age 66), were randomly selected to receive 40 mg/day pravastatin (Pravachol™), or to continue their regular treatment (no placebo). Mean follow up was 4.8 years, during which approximately 32% of the "usual care participants" started taking lipid lowering (i.e., cholesterol lowering) drugs.

PROSPER (PROspective Study of Pravastatin in the Elderly at Risk)included 5804 patients aged 70-82 with a history of, or risk factors for vascular disease. 2981 received 40 mg a day of pravastatin. 2913 patients received a placebo. Followup continued for 3.2 years.

ASCOT (Anglo Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes Trial) started with 19342 patients who were hypertensive (had high blood pressure ). Of them, 10305 patients with cholesterol below 250 mg/dL (miligram per deciliter) were selected for this study. The patients were randomly assigned to either receive additional 10 mg atorvastatin (Trade Name - Lipitor™), or a placebo. The patients age was between 40 and 79, and they all had at least three cardiac risk factors in addition to the hypertension. The experiment was intended to last for 5 years, but in fact, it was terminated after a median of 3.3 years followup.

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Last Modification - February 8, 2008