If you’re between 40 and 60 and aren’t taking a statin drug, talk to your healthcare provider about getting a prescription. Statins are typically prescribed for patients who have high cholesterol or some other risk factor of heart disease. But a new report has found that middle-aged men who don’t have heart disease can benefit greatly from taking that medication.
“Treating middle aged men, who do not have heart disease, with cheap off-patent statins for 5 years, not only prevents heart attacks and deaths due to heart disease, but substantially reduces days spent in hospital, for coronary heart disease, stroke and heart failure,” according to Ian Ford, a biostatistician at the University of Glasgow and the study’s lead author.
In Fords’ study, half of the subjects received 40mg of statins every day for five years, while the other half were given a placebo. Researchers then followed the men for the next 10 years. Over the 15-year course of the study, 7% of the placebo group died from heart disease or a heart attack, while only 5% of the statin group died from those causes. In addition, the statin group had fewer hospital admissions for non-fatal heart events than the placebo group.
Besides saving lives and reducing the number of non-fatal heart attacks and strokes, the study found another benefit: it saves money. For example, taking a man out of the workforce whether because of death or incapacitating illness, means state, local, and federal governments receive less tax revenue. They also have to pay out more in disability benefits or social security to survivors. MHN published a detailed analysis of the high cost of ignoring men’s health. You can read about it here. There’s also an abstract of the published article here.
As beneficial as statins appear to be, there can be significant negative side effects, including diabetes and problems with memory muscles. For some men, those risks may outweigh the benefits, so be sure to check with your healthcare provider to see whether statins are right for you.
The study was published in the European Heart Journal. You can read an excerpt here.