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Dec 23, 2015 03:31 AM EST

Government panel recommends preventive statin use for adults over 40

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The U.S. government task force on health has recommended that adults between the ages of 40 and 75 who are at risk for heart attack or stroke should take statins, UPI reports.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has issued a draft recommendation to this effect.

The draft recommends that people who have a 10 percent risk of heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years should take statins. However, people with a risk as low as 7.5 percent should take the drugs depending on individual diagnoses.

"In addition to a healthy lifestyle, statins are useful for people at an elevated risk for cardiovascular disease," said Dr. Douglas Owens, of Stanford University in California and a member of the USPSTF, according to Reuters.

The USPSTF uses the AHA/ACC method for calculating risk, according to the draft recommendation.

"People with no signs, symptoms, or history of cardiovascular disease can still be at risk for having a heart attack or stroke," Dr. Douglas K. Owens, a professor at Stanford University and member of the task force, said.

"Fortunately, for certain people at increased risk, statins can be very effective at preventing these events."

The task force based its recommendation on 18 clinical trials of statin use with adults over 40. The biggest preventive effect was witnessed in people with a 10 percent risk.

"The magnitude of the benefit is different the greater the risk," Owens told Time. "Heart disease risk is a continuum, so the higher your risk, the more likely you will benefit from taking a statin."

Dr. Steven Nissen, chair of cardiovascular medicine at Cleveland Clinic, said the recommendation does not definitely suggest anything for some patients.

"These recommendations leave as many questions as they give answers," Nissen said. "It doesn't clarify for prescribers and for patients what they should do. I find that exasperating."

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