Statins still necessary

8 Sep 2016

The AMA has warned against claims that a Mediterranean-style diet is better for treating heart disease than cholesterol-lowering drugs.

A study presented at a global medical conference in Rome this week found that people with a history of heart attacks, strokes, and blocked arteries who ate mainly along Mediterranean lines - with lots of nuts, fish, oils and vegetables - were 37 per cent less likely to die than others with similar health issues, regardless of statin use.

The chair of the AMA’s Council of General Practice, Dr Richard Kidd, said treatment should always start with diet and exercise but, for those at high risk, statins are necessary.

"As the risk increases, you become a lot more aggressive in terms of interventions because if someone is at high risk, you want to do everything you can to reduce the chances of them having a severe heart attack or stroke," Dr Kidd told AAP.

"We know that whatever risk a person has got, if you give them a statin, you reduce their risk of a heart attack by a third."

Dr Kidd warned against alarmist media coverage. More than 60,000 Australians cut back on or stopped taking statins after a widely discredited television program questioned their effectiveness in 2013.