Cholesterol Drugs May Be Underused
Study: Statin Drugs Must Be Taken Properly to Help Prevent Heart Attack
WebMD News Archive
Dec. 6, 2006 -- Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs can't help your heart if
you don't take them properly, Dutch researchers warn.
They included Fernie Penning-van Beest, PhD, of the Pharmo Institute,
located in Utrecht, Netherlands. The institute's clients include drug
"Drugs are only really effective if they are used properly and
persistently," Penning-van Beest says in a news release.
"Unfortunately, statins are not being used optimally," which might
lead to thousands of unnecessary heart attacks worldwide, Penning-van Beest
The study is scheduled to appear in the European Heart Journal's
Dec. 7 edition.
Data came from the Pharmo Institute's records on more than 59,000 Dutch
patients who were prescribed statin drugs between 1991 and 2004.
More than half of the patients (53%) stopped using statins within the first
two years of statin treatment, the study shows.
Those patients were 30% more likely to be hospitalized for a heart
attack during the study period than those who kept taking statin
Based on those numbers, the researchers estimate that "persistent,
high-dose" statin treatment can prevent 300-400 heart attacks per year
among statin users in the Netherlands.
However, many factors affect heart health. The study doesn't prove that
heart attack risk was solely due to quitting statins.
For instance, the data don't show whether the patients who quit taking
statins also quit taking other drugs, or why they stopped taking statins.
The study was funded by Nefarma, a Dutch pharmaceutical association.