(RxWiki News) Cholesterol-lowering statins are known to reduce the risk of a cardiovascular-related death. How they fared longer term was uncertain. New findings shows they remain effective at the five-year mark.
A trial shows that 40 milligrams daily of simvastatin (Zocor) found that high-risk patients still reaped the benefits of lower cholesterol and a lower risk of dying more than five years after beginning treatment.
"Take statins as prescribed by your doctor."
Heart Protection Study Collaborative Group researchers enrolled 20,536 patients at high risk of vascular or other health problems during the study period, which lasted five years and three months.
Patients took 40 milligrams daily of simvastatin or a placebo using minimized randomization. Surviving patients were followed for a mean of 11 years.
During the trial, patients who took simvastatin reduced their LDL cholesterol an average of 1 mmol/L and their risk of vascular events was reduced by 23 percent. The treatment benefits appeared to increase each year during the study period, though they reached a plateau in the years following trial completion.
Investigators also found that there was not an increase in first diagnoses of cancer except for melanoma, and there was not an increased risk of death from cancer when taking the statins.
Researchers concluded that the findings further support beginning statins promptly and continuing the drugs long term.
The study, which was funded by the UK Medical Research Council, the British Heart Foundation, Merck & Co. and Roche Vitamins, was recently published in The Lancet.