Controversial drug may increase survival rate of those with heart disease

Increasingly older patients are being prescribed moderate doses of statins as part of their treatment for cardiovascular disease.

The drugs have for years been controversial, and many healthcare professionals try to avoid prescribing them because the side effects can be quite adverse.

However, new research suggests cardiovascular patients will have a better chance of survival if they are prescribed a high dose of statins.

Cardiovascular disease is a major cause of death in Australia. There are more than 45,000 deaths attributed to cardiovascular disease each year, with the Heart Foundation indicating that at least one Australian is killed every 12 minutes from it.

Statins are the medications prescribed to assist in the lowering of your cholesterol. They are also recommended for people who have, or are at risk of, cardiovascular disease.

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Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine conducted a large national study in the United States comparing a high-intensity dosage of statins with a more moderate-intensity treatment, the results of which have been published in the JAMA Cardiology journal.

It found that those patients receiving a high dose treatment of statins were also the ones at lowest rate of mortality.

Over the course of a year, mortality rates of those receiving a high dose of statins was 4 per cent, while those receiving moderate doses had mortality of 4.8 per cent and those on low doses of statins had a mortality rate of 5.7 per cent. Those patients not on any dosage of statins at all had a mortality rate of 6.6 per cent.

The research reveals that the high statin doses had a positive effect across all age groups, but were most consistent in those patients over 75 years.

While statin use to treat cardiovascular treatment remains controversial, this research could change the way treatment occurs in some patients.

Do you take any statins to control your cholesterol or to treat cardiovascular disease? Have you ever had an adverse side effects to medication?