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'Statins slashed heart attack deaths by half'

Dec 28 2012, 19:26 IST
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Statins slashed heart attack deaths by half. (Thinkstock) Statins slashed heart attack deaths by half. (Thinkstock)
SummaryThe cheap and widely available drug can reduce cholesterol.

'Wonder drug' statins have slashed the number of deaths from heart attacks by half, saving millions of lives over the past decade, experts say.

The cheap and widely available drug can reduce cholesterol and protect against a host of chronic illnesses, they said.

According to new figures from the British Heart Foundation, between 2002 and 2010 the death rate in men fell dramatically from 78.7 per 100,000 to 39.2. The death rate among women fell from 37.3 to 17.7, the 'Daily Express' reported.

Statins are now taken regularly by eight million patients in the UK. Their widespread use, combined with healthier lifestyles, has led to far fewer people having heart attacks.

Huge leaps in emergency surgery and better post-operative are also mean those who do have an attack stand a much better chance of recovery.

However, doctors, say death rates in Britain are among the worst in Europe and are still "way too high".

"Around 50 per cent fewer people are having heart attacks in the first place and statins play a big part on primary and secondary prevention," Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said.

"Until statins came along we didn't have drugs that were effective and safe. Despite what a lot of people say about side-effects they are very well tolerated by patients, said Weissberg.

"The fall in the number of deaths from heart attacks has actually been dropping for the past 20 years and some of that is to do with lifestyle.

"Fewer people are smoking, we have better control of blood pressure, excellent treatment for those who have suffered a heart attack and statins ¿ it's a whole mixture. But the rate is still way too high," said Weissberg.

Cardiovascular diseases – conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels – remain the biggest cause of deaths worldwide, the report said.

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