Only half of people taking statins reduce their cholesterol effectively

16 April 2019        

Category: Research

New research from Nottingham University shows that around half of people taking statins do not see their cholesterol drop to the recommended levels within two years.

Statins on table

The UK based researchers followed 165,000 people who were prescribed statins between 1990 and 2016. Half of these people (51 per cent) did not see their cholesterol levels fall to the recommended levels within two years of starting their statin.

People who did not see their cholesterol effectively lowered after taking statins were more likely to develop heart and circulatory disease than those who did.

While the findings show that not all people who are prescribed statins manage to lower their cholesterol to the desired levels, it can't tell us why. The researchers were unable to say whether patients who did not reach the desired cholesterol levels were taking their statins as prescribed. It's possible that a higher dose, or a different statin would have worked for them.

Our Associate Medical Director Professor Metin Avkiran commented on the findings:

“Although this study suggests that not everyone who is prescribed statins manages to reduce their cholesterol sufficiently, it doesn’t explain why. It may be that these people have been prescribed low dose or low potency statins, that they are not taking the medication as prescribed, or that they are not responding well to the type of statins that they have been prescribed.  

“Statins are an important and proven treatment for lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of a potentially fatal heart attack or stroke. 

“If you have been prescribed statins you should continue to take them regularly, as prescribed. If you have any concerns you should discuss your medication with your GP. There are now other drugs available to help lower cholesterol levels, and it may be that another type of medication will be an effective addition or alternative for you.”

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