An extensive international research study that we helped to fund has provided conclusive evidence that statin treatment does reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in women.
As well as showing that women who have already had a heart attack or stroke would benefit from taking statins, the study found that women who are at risk of one of these potentially deadly events would benefit. Cardiovascular disease causes around 80,000 deaths in women per year in the UK, more than cancer.
Benefits of statins
Thanks to research we have funded, the benefits of taking statins are widely known. They reduce the levels of the dangerous LDL cholesterol in the blood, which helps prevent a person having a heart attack or stroke.
But there have been question marks about how effective statins are in women. This is because of a lack of evidence. Because cardiovascular problems generally happen at an older age in women, they have historically been under-represented in most of the clinical trials looking at statin treatments.
A major study
In this study, which involved the Clinical Trial Service Unit at Oxford which we help to fund, the researchers analysed data from 27 clinical trials involving over 170,000 people. This included nearly 50,000 women. They pulled together the largest database of statin clinical trial results in the world.
The researchers found that overall, taking statins reduced a person's risk of a heart attack, stroke or other major cardiovascular event by 21 per cent for each level of reduction in cholesterol. The reduction in risk was found to be similar in women and men.
Beyond reasonable doubt
Our Medical Director, Professor Peter Weissberg, said:
Far too few women realise they are at greater risk of dying from a heart attack than from breast cancer
Professor Peter Weissberg
Our Medical Director
“This analysis of the effects of statins on 174,000 patients, undertaken by combining results from 27 different trials, shows beyond any reasonable doubt that women gain the same benefits from statins as men.
“Far too few women realise they are at greater risk of dying from a heart attack than from breast cancer and this study should reassure them that, if advised by their doctor, they can reduce that risk by taking a statin.”
The results of the study were published in The Lancet.
It was research we funded that helped prove statins can save lives. We need your support to keep funding studies like this that are changing clinical practice.