The benefits of statin use extend to protecting against cardiovascular events in patients who have had a heart attack or who are at risk of heart disease, according to new research presented today EuroCMR 2017.

The study included 4,622 people in the UK Biobank community-based cohort study that did not have cardiovascular disease. Researchers used cardiac magnetic resonance imaging to gauge left and right ventricular volumes and mass, while statin use data was gathered from medical records and self-reported questionnaires.

Multiple regression analysis showed that those taking statins had a 2.4% lower left ventricular mass and lower left and right ventricular volumes; thicker and larger hearts are more frequently associated with the risk of future heart attacks, heart failures or strokes. 

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Overall, individuals taking statins in the study (17%) had higher blood pressure and BMIs, and were more likely to have hypertension or diabetes. However, the findings of lower ventricular mass and volumes in this study suggest that statin prescriptions could be beneficial for a broader population to include patients over 40 years old.

“There is debate about whether we should lower the bar and the question is when do you stop,” said Dr. Nay Aung, Queen Mary University of London, and the study’s lead author. “What we found is that for patients already taking statins, there are beneficial effects beyond cholesterol lowering and that’s a good thing. But instead of a blanket prescription we need to identify people most likely to benefit – i.e. personalized medicine.”

To determine patients who will benefit the most from statin therapy, a “dual approach” is needed, the authors added. Evaluating both the patient’s clinical factors (eg, smoking, hypertension) and the genetic factors can help predict clinical response to statins. 

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