People without established cardiovascular disease but with high risk factors should be given cholesterol lowering statins, a study suggests.
Previous research has found that statin therapy in patients with established cardiovascular disease was beneficial, but the impact of it on lower risk people was not known.
However, research published on bmj.com investigated whether statins reduced deaths and major cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events in people without established heart disease.
Researchers analysed the results of 10 large trials involving over 70,000 patients and compared statin therapy with placebo or control group, tracking patients for an average of four years.
The results show statins cut deaths from all causes by 12% and cut the risk of major events by 30% in patients without established heart disease.
There was no significant difference between men and women, elderly and young patients, and those with or without diabetes.
Although it is not possible to conclude which group would benefit most from long term statin use, men over 65 years with risk factors, or older women with diabetes and risk factors, make up the highest risk group.
Researchers said it would be wrong to deny long-term statin treatment to people at increased risk of cardiovascular disease without further investigations into the therapy.