Don’t stop taking statins without talking to your doctor first

1 November 2013

In response to public debate about the role of statins in reducing heart attack and stroke in people at risk of cardiovascular disease, NPS MedicineWise is urging people not to stop taking their medicine without talking to their doctor first.

NPS MedicineWise CEO Dr Lynn Weekes says that cardiovascular disease remains Australia’s biggest killer and by 2050 it is predicted that 1 in 4 people will be affected.

“Your risk of cardiovascular disease is based on many different factors, including your age, gender, cholesterol and blood pressure levels, lifestyle factors and other medical conditions,” she said.

“If you have been prescribed a statin to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack or stroke, it is important that you keep taking your medicine as directed.”

There is strong evidence from several independent reviews of clinical trials that statins are effective in reducing the chance of having a heart attack or a stroke, particularly for people with cardiovascular disease and those who have already had a heart attack or stroke.

Statins have also been shown to reduce the chance of having a first heart attack or stroke in people who don’t have cardiovascular disease but are at high risk of developing it.

NPS MedicineWise is encouraging people to ask their doctor about their risk of developing cardiovascular disease, especially people who are 45 years or over (or over 35 years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people).

“Your doctor will assess your risk factors including blood pressure, cholesterol levels, body mass index (BMI), family history, smoking and physical activity,” says Dr Weekes.

“This assessment can help you and your doctor to identify the steps you need to take to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.”

About statins

  • Statins top the list of the 10 most commonly prescribed subsidised medicines in Australia.
  • As well as lowering cholesterol, they reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke for people at risk.
  • Statins include medicines with any of the following active ingredients: atorvastatin, fluvastatin, pravastatin, rosuvastatin and simvastatin.

Finding more information

More information about statins is available at

For more information on prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines (herbal, ‘natural’, vitamins and minerals) from a health professional, call NPS Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) . Hours of operation are Monday–Friday 9am–5pm AEST (excluding public holidays).


Independent, evidence-based and not-for-profit, NPS MedicineWise enables better decisions about medicines and medical tests. We are funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.

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