Heart attack patients who stop statin risk death

August 28th, 2008 - 4:00 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 28 (IANS) Patients discontinuing statin medication after acute myocardial infarction, increased their risk of dying over the next year, said researchers at McGill University. Acute myocardial infarction (AMI) is the death of heart muscle caused by loss of blood supply to the muscle, normally a result of blocked coronary arteries.

Using data on British patients who survived AMI and were still alive three months later, Stella Daskalopoulou and colleagues found that those who discontinued their statin medication were 88 percent more likely to die during the following year compared to those who had never been on the medication.

“Statins were found to be beneficial drugs,” said Daskalopoulou, of McGill’s Faculty of Medicine. “Patients who used statins before an AMI and continued to take them after were 16 percent less likely to die over the next year than those who never used them.”

“So even if it appears that the statins failed to prevent your AMI, it is beneficial to continue taking them and potentially quite harmful to stop.”

The large, population-based cohort study was conducted using UK data to take advantage of the medical records kept in the General Practice Research Database (GPRD), which collects information on the health of more than three million patients across the UK.

“In the general population the statin discontinuation rate within the first year of prescription is 30 percent. That’s very high,” Daskalopoulou continued.

“Because statins are preventative drugs, patients may not feel the immediate benefit of taking them and sometimes stop. However, it looks like this might be quite a dangerous practice after an AMI.”

The study was published in a recent issue of the European Heart Journal.

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