Statins not to be feared: Heart Foundation

The issue of whether statins are safe or not to use needs to be laid to rest the Heart Foundation says, after new research on them was published.

The "fear-mongering" around the use of statins must end, says the Heart Foundation, after a review of the cholesterol-lowering tablets found them to be safe and effective.

A review of the available evidence on statins, published in The Lancet medical journal, has found that the risks of a negative reaction are far outweighed by the benefits.

The review found that side-effects can include developing muscle pain, diabetes or a haemorrhagic stroke, but suggestions that statins cause other conditions, such as memory loss, cataracts, kidney injury, liver disease, sleep disturbance, aggression or erectile dysfunction, are not accurate.

"The number of lives saved far outweighs these adverse effects, " Heart Foundation chief medical advisor Professor Garry Jennings said in a statement on Friday.

Statins have been the subject of years of controversy and conflicting reports.

In 2013, more than 60,000 Australians cut back on or stopped taking statins after ABC TV's Catalyst program questioned their effectiveness.

Prof Jennings says the review in The Lancet is the most comprehensive to date and while the conclusions are not new, they are conclusive.

He says the issue about their safety now needs to be laid to rest.

"Fears have been created amongst the community however by ill-informed people quoting fallacious or poorly designed studies and promoting conspiracy theories.

"In the light of this report this should now stop before more lives are lost when people stop statins from which they would benefit,' said Prof Jennings.

Diet and exercise are always recommended for people at low risk of cardiovascular disease before statins are prescribed, according to the Australian Medical Assocation,'s Dr Richard Kidd.

However, for those at high risk it's never the case of choosing one or the other and statins are always prescribed to reduce the risk of someone dying from heart disease, he said.

"We know that whatever risk a person has got if you give them a statin you reduce their risk of a heart attack by a third."

Source AAP

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