The benefits of statins, which are widely prescribed anti-cholesterol drugs, have been underestimated and their adverse effects exaggerated, says The Lancet, a study that could help to calm the polemic that led patients to stop these treatments. Code>
According to a large study, the benefits of statins outweigh the risks of side effects.

"Our results show that the number of people who avoid heart attacks and strokes is much higher than the number of people with side effects," says Professor Rory Collins of Oxford University who Other researchers, reviewed 30 studies including 140,000 people.

Statins are drugs that have been around for thirty years. They are prescribed to lower cholesterol and thus prevent cardiovascular risks, especially in the case of a cardiac antecedent. But they are increasingly prescribed as a preventive measure, since a patient's cholesterol level exceeds certain thresholds, which vary according to the situation or country.

According to Professor Collins' study published Friday in the British journal, a reduction of 2 mmol / L LDL (or "bad cholesterol") cholesterol obtained by a statin treatment given for 5 years to 10,000 patients would prevent Of major cardiovascular events (such as heart attacks or strokes caused by clots) in 1,000 people with a history of heart disease (10%) and 500 people with only risk factors (

As for undesirable effects, the most common are muscle pain. Out of 10,000 patients treated for 5 years, there are 5 cases of myopathy (a disease that affects the muscles) of which one case can evolve towards rhabdomyolysis (leading to destruction of muscle tissue).

Five to 10 cases of haemorrhagic stroke were also associated with statins in 10,000 patients treated for 5 years, as well as 50 to 100 new cases of diabetes, most of which occurred shortly after initiation of treatment and in patients with Risks for this disease

But according to the authors of the review, randomized trials (in which patients were divided into two groups receiving either treatment or placebo by random draw) would have shown that "almost all" adverse effects attributed to statins would actually be Not caused by these drugs.

The controversy over the harmfulness or ineffectiveness of statins as a preventive measure has developed rapidly in several countries in recent years.

This is notably the case in the United Kingdom where 200,000 patients have stopped taking them, which could, according to the researchers, result in between 2,000 and 6,000 cardiovascular incidents over the next decade.

In Denmark, each publication of negative information on statins has resulted in a 10% higher risk of discontinuation of the drug, say researchers.
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In France, where more than 5 million people take statins, a market valued at 2 billion euros, several doctors have launched offensives against these drugs.
In "The Truth About Cholesterol," a book published in 2013, Professor Philippe Even estimated that statins were prescribed unnecessarily in at least 9 out of 10 cases, an assertion immediately challenged by the cardiologists and the Academy of Medicine. >

"Misleading claims about the safety and efficacy of statin therapies have a significant cost to public health," said the authors of the study, a position also defended in a commentary by Lancet editor Richard Horton.

Several independent experts welcomed the study. "Statins have been unjustly demonized," says Dr Tim Chico, a specialist at the University of Sheffield, who points out that the "confusion" around statin risks has led "many people to form an opinion without having been Properly informed ".

"Clear, accurate and trustworthy information is vital to enable people to make treatment choices," said Dr. John Tooke, former president of the British Academy of Medical Sciences.

Created on September 09, 2016


Interpretation of the evidence for the efficacy and safety of statin therapy - Rory Collins et al. - The Lancet published online 8 September (study available online)