When it comes to heart attacks and statins, there are many benefits the medical community is just learning now.
Time to get serious about heart attacks and statins.
Benjamin Franklin used to say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. For those of us in middle age who have recently turned 50, that may mean a statin drug taken for five years now may save us a heart attack later on and extend our life expectancy. And it may not be just a heart attack we’re avoiding later on in life. It can improve our overall life expectancy from other causes as well.
A lot of us have already heeded the advice of our doctors to take a baby aspirin a day to thin our blood and reduce the risk of a heart attack. Now, I wish I would’ve listened to him when he said three years ago that I should take a cholesterol-lowering drug to head off a potential heart attack that he said he could be a decade away. The one side effect he told me at the time was that it makes your face flush.
That’s borne out in a new study from a trial of statin use in Scotland that use of statins in men now lower our risk of death for decades and even grows over time.
The study that created a lot of interest at the American Heart Association conference in Chicago is considered landmark the first to show that statin use has such a beneficial legacy.
“My take home message from the study is that LDL lowering with statins has a prolonged ‘legacy’ benefit,” Chris Packard, a University of Glasgow professor who led the study told NiC. “Indeed, it appears as though treatment puts the recipient on a new trajectory for vascular disease.”
Packard says that there’s reassurances that there’s “no detectable adverse effects,” and that the statin us is safe
“LDL lowering shows a lifelong benefit that is economically advantageous with savings in hospitalizations,” Packard says.
The study is part of the West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Trial. What’s key about the study is that it’s the first to show the benefits of statins from those who haven’t even developed clogged arteries and heart disease but have high LDL known as bad cholesterol.
Packard says the study started in 1989 and involved 6,600 Scottish men between 45 and 65. They had an average LDL of 190.
Half of the men were given Provachol, a statin, and the other half were given fake pills over five years.
What the study learned is that there were just over one-third fewer heart-related deaths and fewer heart attacks in those who took statins over those five years.
When looking at the issue 20 years later, the risk of death was about one-fourth less among men who took the statin in the first five years. It also showed that the risk of dying of any cause fell by 13 percent.
Packard said that last result shows that statins have benefits other than lowering cholesterol.
Sounds like for those of us in middle age, it’s time to listen to our doctors more closely. So a statin a day keeps the heart attack away – years later.
So it sounds like having your face look a little flushed now may save your life later.
As for women, Packard says they should see some benefits as well even though they weren’t part of this study.
“All the clinical trial data so far supports the view that men and women receive equal benefit from statin therapy if they are at equal risk,” Packard says. “Pre-menopausal women are protected and are at generally reduced risk (except if they’re diabetic), and post-menopausal women have a risk close to that of men. This is true if asymptomatic – once you have had a coronary event then men and women have similar risk and similar benefits from treatment.”