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People in their 20s and 30s should be offered statins, researchers say

Experts say all patients with high cholesterol should be offered statins, as they significantly reduce the risk of coronary ‘events’.

Scientists at Imperial College London suggest that people in their 20s and 30s should be offered statins. Writing in the journal Circulation,  they say a long-term study, focused purely on the relationship between cholesterol, statins and mortality, demonstrated that even modest reductions in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) yield a “significant” survival benefit.

The research involved participants aged 45 to 64. However, the strength of the relationship between statins and improved survival rates — 28% — shows the drugs should be considered for all patients with high cholesterol, regardless of their age, the researchers said.

The 20-year project examined data from 2,560 men taking part in a randomised clinical trial to test the effects of pravastatin versus a placebo. All the men had levels of LDL higher than 4.9mmol/L but had no evidence of heart disease at the start of the study.

They found that compared with the placebo, there was a 27% reduced risk of coronary heart disease, a 28% reduced risk of dying from coronary heart disease, and a 25% reduced risk of coronary “events” such as a heart attack.

Kausik Ray, professor of public health at Imperial College, who led the research, said between 5% and 10% of people in their 20s and 30s — more than 1.6 million, could have dangerously high cholesterol. But unless they could prove a familial risk, they were unlikely to be prescribed statins under present National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines.

“There is a large group of younger people out there with worrying cholesterol who could benefit from statins,” Ray said.

“If you are young and you can’t demonstrate a family risk, then it means you’re not eligible — you’re left untreated when you should be treated.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20203549

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