Statins May Cut Heart Attacks in Intermediate-Risk Patients

Doctors have long known that cholesterol-lowering statins work in white people who are at high risk for a heart attack. Now, another large study has shown that statins will likely benefit those at intermediate risk for a heart attack, including nonwhites.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in May 2016,included more than 12,000 people around the world who did not have heart disease but were at intermediate risk of a heart attack based on factors such as smoking or having too much weight around their middle, low HDL, or impaired kidney function.

Participants were randomly assigned to receive the statin rosuvastatin (Crestor) or a placebo. After half the participants had been studied for more than five years, the researchers found that people in the rosuvastatin group were less likely than those in the placebo group to experience heart attack, stroke, cardiac arrest, surgery to restore blood flow to the heart, or heart failure (3.7 versus 4.8 percent).

The disadvantages of rosuvastatin were a slight increase in having sore or weak muscles (5.8 versus 4.7 percent) or needing cataract surgery (3.8 versus 3.1 percent).

If you have only moderate risk factors for a heart attack, you still may be a candidate for a statin, regardless of your race or ethnicity.

Should you take a statin if you're healthy? Learn more about how these drugs might benefit you.