One in five people at risk of heart disease shuns statins
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- Reviewed by Christopher P. Cannon, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Heart Letter; Editorial Advisory Board Member, Harvard Health Publishing
Cholesterol-lowering statins can reduce the odds of having a heart attack by about 25% to 35%, especially in people at high risk for these common, life-threatening events. A new study by Harvard researchers suggests that one in five people with cardiovascular disease or diabetes declines to take a recommended statin drug.
The study, which spanned 19 years, included more than 24,000 people who had suffered a stroke or had heart disease, vascular disease, diabetes, or very high cholesterol. Over all, about two-thirds of people advised to take statins eventually started them, but the other third never did. Over the entire course of the study, women were more likely than men to never start a statin.
Published in the February 2023 issue of JAMA Network Open, the study also found harmful LDL cholesterol levels were higher in people who declined to take statins, thereby further increasing their risk of cardiovascular disease. The study authors are planning additional research to understand the reasons behind "statin refusal."
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About the Author
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter
About the Reviewer
Christopher P. Cannon, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Heart Letter; Editorial Advisory Board Member, Harvard Health Publishing
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