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Whether statin therapy is as effective in
women as in men is debated, especially
for primary prevention. This study
compared the effects of statin therapy
between men and women.
The research confirmed that statins are
beneficial not only to women who have
already had a cardiovascular event such
as a heart attack or stroke, but also in
those who -- whilst they have not yet
developed cardiovascular disease --
are at an increased risk of such diseases.
Lead investigator Anthony Keech,
Professor of Medicine, Cardiology
and Epidemiology at the University
of Sydney said: These results resolve a
major uncertainty about the value of
treating women with statin therapy, and
reinforce the need for recommendations
to treat women to be included in
national and international guidelines.
'It has long been known that, by
reducing low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
cholesterol, statin medications prevent
heart attacks and strokes in people at risk
of these diseases. However women tend
to develop cardiovascular disease later in
life than do men, so have been under-
represented in most statin trials. As a
result, the benefits of statin therapy in
women have been uncertain, especially
in the absence of any previous history of
'This analysis of the effects of statins
on 174,000 patients, undertaken by
combining results from 27 different
trials, shows beyond any reasonable
doubt that women gain the same
benefits from statins as men,' he said.
Overall, statin treatment reduced the
risk of a major vascular event (heart
attack, stroke, bypass surgery, cardiac
death) by 21% for each 1 mmol/L
reduction in LDL cholesterol achieved.
The percentage risk reductions were
similar in women and men, irrespective
of any history of cardiovascular disease.
Such benefits from statin treatment
translated into a significant reduction
(9% risk reduction for each 1 mmol/L
reduction in LDL-cholesterol) in the
overall risk of death in both men and
women -- a finding for women which
has not been previously reported by any
individual statin trial.
Professor Keech said: 'There has been
a recent worldwide shift towards
recommending treatment with
statins to people without existing
cardiovascular disease but with a
sufficiently high risk of future disease.
The results of this study will reassure
doctors that these risk-based guidelines
for treatment can be applied to men
and women equally.'
The work was funded by the Australian
National Health and Medical Research
Council (NHMRC), UK Medical Research
Council (MRC), British Heart Foundation
(BHF), and the European Community
Medicare summit call
The Consumers Health Forum (CHF) has
called for a national summit to explore
ways to assure the future of Medicare as a
cost-effective health financing system that
ensures equitable access to services.
CEO of CHF, Adam Stankevicius said: 'We
welcome the Government's decision to
shelve its plan to tinker with time-based
Medicare payments for GPs that had the
potential to generate $20 out-of-pocket
costs for patients.
'The first best thing the new Health
Minister, Sussan Ley, could do is to sit down
with representatives of all parts of the
health system and thrash out the best way
to ensure we can maintain an affordable
health system, available to all. In the
meantime, the Government should place
a moratorium on implementing its other
proposed changes to Medicare.
CHF needs a CEO
The Consumers Health Forum of Australia
has begun the search for a new chief
CHF Chairman Tony Lawson, said he was
sorry to announce that the outgoing
CEO, Adam Stankevicius, had resigned for
'Adam has been an articulate advocate on
behalf of consumers in response to issues
like the proposed Medicare co-payment and
rising out-of-pocket health costs -- issues that
affect so many Australians, particularly the
chronically ill,' Mr Lawson said.
'He has been supported by a small and
committed staff whose work plays a
significant role in shaping Australia's health
policy. Adam's departure is a loss to CHF
but I am confident that the organisation
will continue its key role in Australia as the
premier advocate for health consumers.
'Now more than ever, Australia needs a
clear voice on behalf of consumers when
there is so much uncertainty about the
future of Medicare and the way our health
system should ensure care for those who
most need it in the most equitable and
An international study, published
in The Lancet last month has
shown that statin treatment
reduces the risk of cardiovascular
disease in women.
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