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expert reaction to a 20 year follow up from the West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study (WOSCOP) reporting mortality outcomes after taking statins

In men with high levels of so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol and no other risk factors or signs of heart disease statins reduce deaths from heart disease by 28 per cent, report researchers in a new study published in Circulation.


Dr Tim Chico, Reader in Cardiovascular Medicine & consultant cardiologist, University of Sheffield, said:

“This is a reasonably robust study that adds further confirmation that the risk of heart disease is increased in people with a high cholesterol level, and that this risk can be reduced by statin treatment, even in people who are currently healthy. The benefit of statin treatment is greater in patients with the highest levels of cholesterol, which is to be expected, although even patients with lower cholesterol levels do gain a reduction in their risk of heart disease. It’s worth pointing out that this study specifically looked at men only. It does seem likely that the results also apply to women with similarly high levels of cholesterol, but there is not yet sufficient evidence to confirm this with the same level of certainty. Statins are obviously not a substitute for a heart healthy lifestyle, such as regular exercise, and a diet high in vegetables, nuts, seeds and olive oil, and low in processed food. However, statin treatment is valuable in some otherwise healthy people to reduce their chance of developing heart disease.”


Prof Sir Nilesh Samani, Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said:

“This research further demonstrates the benefits of statins for people who have high levels of cholesterol in their blood. It shows the enduring and long term benefit of taking statins, including the extent to which they reduce the risk of dying from heart disease, which can only be seen in a study of this length.

“The role of cholesterol in causing heart disease has been disputed by some, but this paper provides yet more evidence of the link, and the benefits of statins to prevent heart disease.”


* ‘LDL-cholesterol lowering for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease among men with primary elevations of LDL-cholesterol levels of 190 mg/dL or above’ by Vallejo-Vaz et al. published in Circulation on Wednesday 6 September.


All our previous output on this subject can be seen at this weblink:


 Declared interests

Dr Tim Chico: “I am a committee member and Treasurer of the British Atherosclerosis Society, a charity established in 1999 to promote UK atherosclerosis research.”

None others received.

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