Negative news stories about statins linked to people discontinuing treatment

2 December 2015        

Statins

Negative news stories about statins are linked to some people  discontinuing their treatment, increasing their risk of heart attacks and dying from heart disease, according to research.

The study, published in the European Heart Journal, shows that for every negative nationwide news story about the cholesterol-lowering drug, there was a nine per cent increased risk of people deciding to stop taking statins within six months of first being prescribed the drug. 

The researchers from Denmark identified 674,900 people, aged 40 and older, who were using statins between 1995 and 2010, and considered nearly 2,000 statin-related media stories over the same period.

Statins are the most commonly prescribed medicines in the UK and they work to lower the level of cholesterol in your blood.

Statins reduce risk of heart attack or stroke

Commenting on the study, our Medical Director, Professor Peter Weissberg, said: “This interesting study raises important questions about how people make decisions that affect their health and the consequences of those decisions. It is important for patients that their doctors base their advice on objective interpretation of the best evidence available rather than biased reports in the lay and medical press.

“Everyone is influenced to a certain degree by the media and this study emphasises why it is important that medical professionals, in particular, should be guided by the scientific evidence rather than opinion. Thanks to donations from the UK public, BHF-funded research has provided very strong and clear evidence that statins reduce the risk of someone dying from or being disabled by a heart attack or stroke.”

Are statins safe?

Statins are one of the most studied medicines available and research has shown them to be very safe and very effective. But it is only natural to have concerns about medication, particularly when there is significant negative media coverage – particularly about possible side effects.

Find out more about the UK's most commonly prescribed drug below.

Statins explained