New research reveals that less than half of the patients who are prescribed statins reach the cholesterol level they desire within two years.
Statins are medicine prescribed to help lower the level of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in the blood.
According to New Scientist, health experts often recommend statins to patients who are tagged for being at a higher risk of heart disease. The goal is to usually lower LDL cholesterol level by at least 40 percent.
Statins Only Found To Work In Half Of Patients
In a new study published in the journal Heart, researchers from the University of Nottingham observed data from more than 165,000 patients who were prescribed statins from 1990 to 2016.
Findings show that only 49 percent of the participants achieved a 40 percent drop in LDL cholesterol levels within two years.
More than 84,000 of these patients recorded a sub-optimal response to the prescription of statins.
Furthermore, the patients who did not reach their target level were associated to a 22 percent higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Why Statins Did Not Work On Patients
The researchers note that more of the patients with sub-optimal response were prescribed lower potency doses of statins than those who had an optimal response and reached their goals.
According to a report from the British Heart Foundation, one potential reason that could have contributed to the dismal numbers may be that some patients are not taking the statins as prescribed. Personalized medications and dosages are also important factors into making sure a treatment will work for a patient.
Findings also show that the patients who cut their cholesterol levels by at least 40 percent started out with a higher cholesterol level on average than those who did not reach the target. It's possible that higher intensity statins have been prescribed to these higher-risk patients.
"Statins are an important and proven treatment for lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of a potentially fatal heart attack or stroke," Professor Metin Avkiran, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, explains in a statement. "Although this study suggests that not everyone who is prescribed statins manages to reduce their cholesterol sufficiently, it doesn't explain why."
She continues that there are many reasons why the statins did not work for these patients, including the dosages, potency, and even discipline of the patients.
"If you have been prescribed statins, you should continue to take them regularly, as prescribed," Avkiran urges. "If you have any concerns you should discuss your medication with your GP."
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, the chairman of the Royal College of GPs, agrees, saying that there are plenty of complex reasons for the ineffectiveness of statins. She adds that mixed messaging discouraging the public from statins could even be one of these reasons.