Around half of people taking statins do not see their cholesterol drop to the recommended levels within two years, new research from Nottingham University shows.
The researchers followed 165,000 people who were prescribed statins between 1990 and 2016. Half of these people 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.
‘Although this study suggests that not everyone who is prescribed statins manages to reduce their cholesterol sufficiently, it doesn’t explain why,’ said British Heart Foundation associate medical director Professor Metin Avkiran.
‘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.’
While the findings show that not all people who are prescribed statins manage to lower their cholesterol to the desired levels, it does not show 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.
‘Statins are an important and proven treatment for lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of a potentially fatal heart attack or stroke,’ added Professor Avkiran.
‘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.’