Almost every older person should be taking statins, a new study has found. Almost all men over 60 and women over 75 should be taking the drugs, the research found. And more than a third of people between 30 and 84 should be allowed to do so.
The sweeping findings could suggest that GPs will be asked to prescribe the drugs to the majority of their patients, leading to huge strain on doctors.
The research looked to investigate the effects of guidance that was set by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (Nice) in 2014. That controversial ruling allowed many more people to receive statin therapy on the NHS, since it suggested that anyone with cardiovascular disease should be given the drug, and anyone with a more than 10 per cent chance of developing it in the next 10 years should take it too.The latest study, published in the British Journal of General Practice, examined the algorithm endorsed by Nice for the assessment of CVD risk and compared it to data from the 2011 Health Survey for England to estimate the number of people who are eligible for statin therapy under the guidance.
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Virtually all of the major statin studies were paid for and conducted by their respective pharmaceutical company. A long history of misrepresentation of data and occasionally fraudulent reporting of data suggests that these results are often much more optimistic than subsequent data produced by researchers and parties that do not have a financial stake in the results.
People taking the drugs are more likely to suffer from hardening of the arteries, a leading cause of heart problems. In addition, researchers found the drugs block a process that protects the heart. This can “cause, or worsen, heart failure”, according to a study.Dr Okuyama, of Nagoya City University, Japan, said: “We have collected a wealth of information on cholesterol and statins from many published papers and find overwhelming evidence that these drugs accelerate hardening of the arteries and can cause, or worsen, heart failure. I cannot find any evidence to support people taking statins and patients who are on them should stop.”
Dr Okuyama and his team say many earlier industry-sponsored studies, which show the benefits of statins, are unreliable. They claim this is because they were carried out before new European regulations were introduced in 2004 which insisted on all trial findings, both negative and positive, being declared.The study states that before these new rules came into effect “unfair and unethical problems were associated with clinical trials reported by industry-supported scientists”.Dr Okuyama’s team looked at studies before and after 2004.
The researchers say the hypothesis that statins protect the heart by lowering cholesterol is flawed and that high cholesterol is not necessarily linked to heart disease.They also found statins have a negative effect on vital body processes linked to heart health.They discovered patients taking the drugs were more likely to have calcium deposits in their arteries, a phenomenon directly linked to heart attacks.Dr Peter Langsjoen, a heart specialist based in Texas who is co-author of the study, said: “Statins are being used so aggressively and in such large numbers of people that the adverse effects are now becoming obvious. These drugs should never have been approved for use. The long-term effects are devastating.”
The new American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines for the treatment of cholesterol would increase the number of individuals eligible for statin therapy by nearly 13 million people, an increase that is largely driven by older patients and treating individuals without cardiovascular disease, according to a new analysis.Among older adults, those aged 60 to 75 years old, 87.4% of men would now be eligible for the lipid-lowering medication, which is up from one-third under the old Adult Treatment Panel (ATP) III guidelines. For women of the same age, the percentage of those now eligible for statins would increase from 21.2% under ATP III to 53.6% with the new 2013 clinical guidelines.
A spokesman for the MHRA, the Government drug regulator, said: “The benefits of statins are well established and are considered to outweigh the risk of side effects in the majority of patients. Any new significant information on the efficacy of statins will be carefully reviewed and action be taken if required”.
Oxford professor Sir Rory Collins has warned that overstating concerns about statins could “cause very large numbers of unnecessary deaths from heart attacks and stroke”.
Pharmacological evidence and clinical trial results support the interpretation that statins stimulate atherogenesis by suppressing vitamin K2 synthesis and thereby enhancing artery calcification. Statins cause heart failure by depleting the myocardium of CoQ10, ‘heme A’ and selenoproteins, thereby impairing mitochondrial ATP production. In summary, statins are not only ineffective in preventing CHD events but instead are capable of increasing CHD and heart failure.Physicians who are involved in prescribing cholesterol-lowering medications cannot ignore the moral responsibility of ‘informed consent’. Patients must be informed of all statin adverse effects, including the ability to cause CHD and heart failure, onset of diabetes mellitus, carcinogenicity, teratogenicity and central and peripheral nervous disorders besides the well-known rhabdomyolysis and hepatic injury. Most of these adverse effects of statins become apparent after 6 or more years of statin therapy. Chronic administration could ultimately lead to these statin adverse effects as pharmaceutical and biochemical research has now demonstrated.