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Twenty fold increase in prescriptions of statins

Prescriptions for statins, drugs designed to lower cholesterol, have reached an all time high, according to a recent report. Doctors commonly recommend...

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|Jul 5|magazine6 min read

Prescriptions for statins, drugs designed to lower cholesterol, have reached an all time high, according to a recent report.

Doctors commonly recommend the drugs to stroke or heart attack patients, despite a number of side effects which include memory loss and muscle pain.

The report found that the number of statin prescriptions has increased 20-fold; in 1981 only a few thousand people were taking statins but that figure now stands at seven million.

In the last two years alone the number of statin prescriptions has risen by 10 million, with 52 million now being written each year, equal to one million prescriptions each week.

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The British Heart Foundation (BHF) claims that statins equate to 20 percent of all coronary related prescriptions in England, whereas in 1981 this statistic was less than one percent.

Even though statins have been recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) for high-risk stroke and heart attack patients for the next 10 years, it is thought that the drugs come with some risks.

Studies have linked the drugs to kidney failure, liver and muscle damage; however, they have been described as one of the greatest medical successes of the past twenty year and have reportedly saved thousands of lives.

The medical director of the BHF, Professor Peter Weissberg, said in an interview that statins had “undoubtedly changed the face of heart disease treatment for the better and prevented many heart attacks and strokes.”

He added: “As with any other medicine, some people do experience side effects from statins but these are rarely life threatening and the benefits of statins far outweigh any disadvantages.

“They continue to make a major contribution to the nation’s heart health.”