The following was posted on the Track Your Plaque forum on 9/14/2013
Here are some highlights from here: http://chriskresser.com/the-diet-heart-myth-statins-dont-save-lives-in-people-without-heart-disease backed up by studies.
An analysis by Dr. David Newman in 2010 which drew on large meta-analyses of statins found that among those with pre-existing heart disease that took statins for 5 years (1):
96% saw no benefit at all
1.2% (1 in 83) had their lifespan extended (were saved from a fatal heart attack)
2.6% (1 in 39) were helped by preventing a repeat heart attack
0.8% (1 in 125) were helped by preventing a stroke
0.6% (1 in 167) were harmed by developing diabetes
10% (1 in 10) were harmed by muscle damage A heart attack or stroke can have a significant negative impact on quality of life, so any intervention that can decrease the risk of such an event should be given serious consideration. But even in the population for which statins are most effective—those with pre-existing heart disease—83 people have to be treated to extend one life, and 39 people have to be treated to prevent a repeat heart attack.
Primary prevention (those without pre-existing heart disease)Statins do reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in people without pre-existing heart disease. However, this effect is more modest than most people assume. Dr. Newman also analyzed the effect of statins given to people with no known heart disease for 5 years (5):
98% saw no benefit at all
1.6% (1 in 60) were helped by preventing a heart attack
0.4% (1 in 268) were helped by preventing a stroke
1.5% (1 in 67) were harmed by developing diabetes
10% (1 in 10) were harmed by muscle damageThese statistics present a more sobering view on the efficacy of statins in people without pre-existing heart disease. They suggest that you’d need to treat 60 people for 5 years to prevent a single heart attack, or 268 people for 5 years to prevent a single stroke. These somewhat unimpressive benefits must also be weighed against the downsides of therapy, such as side effects and cost. During that hypothetical 5 year period, 1 in 67 patients would have developed diabetes and 1 in 10 patients would have developed muscle damage (which can be permanent in some cases, as we’ll see later in this section).
The only population that statins extend life in are men under 80 years of age with pre-existing heart disease.
In men under 80 without pre-existing heart disease, men over 80 with or without heart disease, and women of any age with or without heart disease, statins have not been shown to extend lifespan.
Statins do reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in all populations. A heart attack or stroke can have a significant, negative impact on quality of life—particularly in the elderly—so this benefit should not be discounted.
However, the reductions in cardiovascular events are often more modest than most assume; 60 people with high cholesterol but no heart disease would need to be treated for 5 years to prevent a single heart attack, and 268 people would need to be treated for 5 years to prevent a single stroke.
Statins have been shown to cause a number of side effects, such as muscle pain and cognitive problems, and they are probably more common than currently estimated due to under-reporting.
My intention here is not to suggest that statins have no place in the treatment of heart disease, but rather to give you the objective information you need to decide (along with your doctor) whether they are appropriate for you. The decision whether to take them should be based on whether you have pre-existing heart disease, what your overall risk of a heart attack is, how healthy your diet and lifestyle is, what other treatments you’ve already tried, and your own risk tolerance and worldview. It’s clear that statins reduce heart disease as well as the risk of death in those that have already had a heart attack, so if you’re in this group and you’ve already tried diet and lifestyle interventions without much impact on your lipid or inflammatory markers, you are more likely to benefit.
Read the whole thing here if you are a member.