Heart drugs ‘have longer effect’

GLASGOW, Scotland A study conducted by the University of Glasgow found that certain cholesterol-lowering drugs provide protection against heart disease years after patients stop taking them.

Statins, the university research concluded, can reduce the risk of heart attacks in male patients by 25 percent. Additionally, people taking the drugs for five years were still experiencing the benefits 10 years after they stopped taking them, with a reduced risk of heart disease.

“We were very surprised to find patients who had been treated for five years with a statin continued to have significantly fewer heart attacks and other coronary events compared to those treated with a placebo treatment,” said Stuart Cobbe, professor and leading cardiologist on the study.

The university study is one of several that have been done in the UK over the past decade. The West of Scotland Coronary Prevention study has been done over the past 15 years, and involved 6,595 men from the region, with an average age of 55, who had high cholesterol. After being recruited between 1989 and 1991, the subjects were divided in half, one group given a placebo and the other half given pravastatin. Their health was followed for five years, until 1995, with the results showing that the statin users had a lower risk of strokes and heart disease.

The latest research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, examined the group 10 and 15 years later. The newer study discovered that there was a “significant” reduction in coronary problems for people who had taken statins for five years.

An estimated three million people in the UK take statins for heart-related issues.