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Study: Cholesterol drugs needlessly used

Aug. 19, 2011 at 3:03 PM   |   Comments

LONDON, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Tens of thousands of patients at low risk of heart attacks or strokes could be taking statin heart drugs needlessly, a study published in Britain says.

The study published in The Lancet medical journal is the latest suggesting too many people are taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs who show no evidence of coronary artery calcium, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.

As many as 7 million middle-aged and older people in England are thought to take statins at a cost of $825 million a year to the National Health Service, the Telegraph said.

Researchers said the findings have important public health implications and significant cost savings could be realized if cholesterol-lowering drugs were prescribed only for those who would genuinely benefit.

"The greatest challenge for preventive medicine is identifying people who are at highest risk of heart disease and who should be given drugs, particularly statins, to reduce that risk," said Peter Weissberg, medical director for the British Heart Foundation.

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