According to Wikipedia:
"Statins, also known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, are a class of lipid-lowering medications that reduce illness and mortality in those who are at high risk of cardiovascular disease. They are the most common cholesterol-lowering drugs"
And the British Heart Foundations says:
"Statins are a type of medication used to lower the level of cholesterol in the blood and protect the insides of the artery walls. High levels of cholesterol can lead to fatty deposits building up in your arteries which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and can lead to angina, heart attacks and stroke."
For our blog:
Statins can clearly do a good job. And for people who really need them they are vital towards their overall health. However, new research is saying they are overprescribed. And, in fact, the benefits for most people with no history of cardiovascular disease are "marginal at best". The researchers, from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, who produced their study in the British Medical Journal, also pointed to studies linking statins to an increased risk of muscle problems, diabetes, and haemorrhagic stroke.
Astonishingly, around 12 million Brits - one in three of people over the age 30 - qualify for these drugs under NHS guidelines. Although they say the cost is around 4p a day, that still adds up to a very large amount of cash. Doctors consider quite a few factors when prescribing these pills - and they can include age, ethnicity and smoking status.
Professor Susan Smith says that high risk patients could slash their ten-year risk of cardiovascular disease from 38 per cent to 29 per cent with statins. But a low-risk patient may only see their odds fall from an already small 1.4 per cent to 0.8 per cent. They argue that this small difference may not justify tasking a daily pill.
Apparently, in 2016, European guidelines recommended that more people be given statins. They found, due to this information, that over 50s in Ireland eligible for statins increased from 8 per cent to an incredible 61 per cent. Yes, there were clear benefits for some but "serious questions remain about statins' benefit and acceptability for primary prevention, particularly in patients at low risk of cardiovascular disease. Statins, in this context, may be an example of low-value care (having little benefit and potential to cause harm) in these patients and, in some cases, represent a waste of resources."
It should be pointed out that the Royal College of GPs, said it had previously voiced concerns about lowering the threshold of availability to statins. They added: "GPs are highly trained to prescribe and will only do so if they think it is in the best interests of the patient."
Doctors issued more than 96 million NHS prescriptions for statins in England last year.