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Experts recommend preventive statin therapy
04.11.2012Rather than waiting for a patient to experience a heart attack or for them to develop severe risk factors for a cardiovascular event, doctors should prescribe statin medications early on in the course of treatment, according to a new report. This type of healthcare and wellness program could help avert many heart attacks and strokes.
Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a team of researchers from Johns Hopkins University said that many doctors do wait to prescribe statins until a patient's risk factors become serious. However, they recommended offering the medication even when chances of a heart attack or stroke are low. A patient with a 10 percent risk of suffering a cardiovascular event in the next 10 years should be given statins, the researchers said.
"As always, lifestyle change is the first-line therapy," the team wrote. "However, if this patient’s cholesterol level remains abnormal, despite sustained attempts at lifestyle optimization, statin therapy should be considered, with the goal of reducing coronary heart disease risk."
There is strong evidence to suggest that statin therapy can reduce a person's chances of experiencing a heart attack or stroke, even if their only heart disease risk factor is high cholesterol, according to the paper.
Furthermore, statin medications have been shown to present little risk of side effects, most of which disappear when a patient discontinues use of the drugs. With new generic versions now on the market, cost is less of a consideration than it once was. There are very few downsides to treatment with statins.
This indicates that the benefits of preventive statin therapy far outweigh the potential downside, the researchers wrote.
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