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High cholesterol and heart disease link not clear cut

Tuesday March 15th 2022

The link between low density lipoprotein and cardiovascular disease may not be as strong as previously thought, according to a new Irish study.

Research by a team at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Dublin, has questioned how efficient statins are if prescribed to help lower LDL-C and reduce the risk of CVD. The analysis contradicts previous research, which suggested statins to lower LDL-C positively affects health outcomes.

The findings are based on a systematic review of 21 large randomised clinical trials.

Writing in the latest *JAMA Internal Medicine*, the researchers say lowering LDL-C using statins had an inconsistent and inconclusive impact on CVD outcomes such as myocardial infarction, stoke, and all-cause mortality.

They also suggest that the overall benefit of taking statins may be small and will vary depending on an individual’s personal risk factors – information that should be communicated to patients as part of the informed clinical decision-making process.

Lead author Dr Paula Byrne, of the HRB Centre for Primary Care Research in RCSI’s Department of General Practice, said: “The message has long been that lowering your cholesterol will reduce your risk of heart disease, and that statins help to achieve this. However, our research indicates that, in reality, the benefits of taking statins are varied and can be quite modest.”

Evaluating the Association Between Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Reduction and Relative and Absolute Effects of Statin Treatment: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis *JAMA Internal Medicine* 14 March 2022; doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2022.0134

[abstract]

Tags: Europe | Heart Health | Pharmaceuticals

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