Statins can cause heart problems, says report

Using statins drugs to prevent a cardiovascular event such as a stroke or heart attack in otherwise healthy people with high cholesterol can increase cardiovascular risk in women, people with diabetes and the young, says a new study by Irish researchers.

Statins, one of the world’s most prescribed drugs, increase the risk of diabetes, cataracts and erectile dysfunction in young users and cause a significant increase in the risk of cancer and neurodegenerative disorders in the elderly, says the review.

“Statins are associated with triple the risk of coronary artery and aortic calcification,” the authors conclude. “These findings . . . have been under-reported and the way in which they have been withheld from the public, and even concealed, is a scientific farce.”

The paper, The Ugly Side of Statins. Systemic Appraisal of the Contemporary Un-Known Unknowns, by consultant vascular and endovascular surgeons Sherif Sultan and Niamh Hynes of the Western Vascular Institute at Galway University Hospital, is published in the Journal of Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases.


Their review of research found a “lack of clinical evidence” to support the use of statins in primary prevention. Over 55 trials on statin therapy have been undertaken.

Sultan said: “The most important single factor in preventing cardiovascular disease is making lifestyle changes. The odds are greater than 100-to-one that, if you’re taking a statin, you don’t really need it. Statins are a good secondary prevention for people who have already had a stroke or heart attack, but there is no evidence that they work in primary prevention.”

He said he was not suggesting people stop taking medication, but they should discuss the side effects with their GP. The only statin benefit that has been demonstrated was in middle-aged men with coronary heart disease, according to the paper.

Michelle McDonagh

Michelle McDonagh

Michelle McDonagh, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about health and family