When statins may be used

Statins may be recommended if you have cardiovascular disease (CVD) or have a high risk of developing it in the next 10 years.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD)

(CVD) is a general term that describes a disease of the heart or blood vessels, often caused by high cholesterol . It's the most common cause of death in the UK.

The main types of CVD are:

  • coronary heart disease when the blood supply to the heart becomes restrictedas a result of the hardening and narrowing of the arteries ( atherosclerosis )
  • angina sharp chest pain caused by coronary heart disease
  • heart attacks when the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked
  • strokes and transient ischaemic attacks (TIAs) when the supply of blood to the brain becomes blocked or disrupted
  • peripheral arterial disease (PAD) whena build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries restricts blood supply to the limbs

Statins can't cure these conditions, but they canhelp prevent them from getting worse or recurring in people who have been diagnosed with them.

They can alsoreduce the chance of these conditions developing in the first place in people at risk (see below).

Statins are usually used in combination with lifestyle measures such as:

  • eating a healthy diet low in saturated fat
  • exercising regularly
  • stopping smoking
  • moderating your alcohol consumption

People at risk ofCVD

If you don't have any form of CVD, statins may still be recommended if you're thought to be at a high risk of developing the condition in the future.

The current recommendation is that you should be offered statins if:

  • there's at least a 1 in 10 chance of you developing CVD at some point in the next 10 years
  • lifestyle measures, such as exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet, haven't reduced this risk

Your GP may recommend carrying out a formal assessment of your CVD risk if they think you may be at an increased risk of CVD, based on your personal and family medical history.

For this formal assessment,your GPor practice nurse will use special CVD risk assessment computer software that takes into account factors such as:

  • your age
  • your gender
  • your ethnic group, as some have an increased risk of CVD
  • your weight and height
  • if you smoke or have previously smoked
  • if you have a family history of CVD
  • your blood pressure
  • your blood cholesterol levels
  • if you have certain long-term conditions such as diabetes , chronic kidney disease , rheumatoid arthritis and atrial fibrillation (a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate)


This is an inherited condition caused by a genetic fault that leadstohigh cholesterol levels, even in people who have a generally healthy lifestyle.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 28 Nov 2016