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Feature Medicine and the Media

Could giving statins to over 75s really save 8000 lives a year?

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l1779 (Published 17 April 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l1779

Re: Could giving statins to over 75s really save 8000 lives a year?

The short answer is no - but the media hype fails to point out, as Hawkes has done, that the figure appears to have been given in a press conference by a statin proponent and did not appear in the paper; it was a crude extrapolation from the conclusion.

However. as has been pointed out (1) the (limited) data available for other cardiac risk factors (smoking, alcohol misuse, diabetes and hypertension) appear to indicate that the high risk group has a higher incidence - but correction for these has not been done. Information on other risk factors such as obesity and exercise is non-existent.

Without adjustment for these important confounders the paper and its conclusions - not to mention extrapolations - are completely useless.

Reference:

1. Harcombe Z. Statins don’t work well for half those who take them. http://www.zoeharcombe.com/2019/04/statins-dont-work-well-for-half-those...

Competing interests: I am a member of the International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics (THINCS)

25 April 2019
Andrew N Bamji
Retired consultant rheumatologist
Rye