Thousands of people could take statins without ever seeing an advantage, the experts fear.
There are new concerns about the number of people who are eligible for the cholesterol-retardant pills after recent research.
A study found that the proportion of people who could get the medication in Ireland has increased by more than 600 percent in the last 30 years.
At the same time, the number of patients that doctors must treat to prevent a single heart attack has increased, suggesting that the guidelines become less accurate.
Experts in the field are, as always, divided on the subject – there are fears about it – prescribing is & # 39; more harm than doing good & # 39; as well as the opinion that all prescribing is beneficial because it is not possible to predict who needs protection.
Statins have been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks, but they are controversial in the medical community due to their potential side effects and effectiveness in people in low-risk groups (stock image)
Research by the National University of Ireland Galway investigated how the threshold for prescribing statins that have been proven to be life-saving has changed over time.
It turned out that in 1987 only eight percent of the Irish population were eligible for medication, while in 2016 this had risen to 61 percent – an increase of 663 percent.
Meanwhile, the number of people who need to be treated to prevent a single cardiac event – such as a cardiac arrest or a heart attack – has increased.
In the lowest risk category, 400 people must now be treated to prevent a single fatal event over a five-year period. This was only 40 in 1994.
The ten-fold increase in the figure suggests that lowering the beam has made statin treatment, generally less efficient.
But it is almost impossible to predict who will have a heart attack, and it will not always be the people with the highest calculated risk, experts said.
In the highest risk category, the drugs still remain highly efficient, preventing a serious heart condition in every 25 people who are treated for a five-year period.
In high risk patients, between 25 and 53 people should be treated to prevent a single cardiac event, and in the moderate risk category, between 53 and 400.
Professor Tim Chico, a cardiology expert at the University of Sheffield, said: & Since almost every adult can have a heart attack, especially as they get older, it means that most of us unfortunately run a small risk due to statin treatment.
& # 39; Unfortunately, we cannot accurately estimate a person's risk of a future heart attack, meaning that many people in the UK today have a heart attack that was expected to have a low risk yesterday.
WHY ARE STATES CONTROVERSIAL?
Statins are the most prescribed drug in the world and an estimated 30 percent of all adults over 40 are eligible to take them.
The cholesterol-lowering drugs are given to people who believe they have a 10 percent or higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease or having a heart attack or stroke within the next 10 years.
They have been proven to help people who have had heart problems in the past, but experts say the thresholds may be too high, meaning that for many people the benefits do not outweigh the side effects.
Almost all men exceed the 10 percent threshold at the age of 65, and all women do so at the age of 70 – regardless of their health.
Commonly reported side effects are headache, muscle aches and nausea, and statins can also increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, hepatitis, pancreatitis, and vision problems or memory loss.
Research published in the Pharmaceutical Journal last year found taking a daily statin for five years after a heart attack prolongs your life by just four days, new research reveals.
And dr. Rita Redberg, professor at the University of California, San Francisco told CNN in January that 100 people take statins for five years without having had a heart attack or stroke, & the best estimates are that one or two people will have a heart avoid attack, and no one will live longer by taking statins. & # 39;
& # 39; Whether a person decides to take statins depends on what his risk of having a heart attack is, how much a statin will lower it, how acceptable they think they are taking normal tablets and whether they get side effects.
& # 39; This is a very individual decision and it is a physician's job to explain these issues and allow a person to make the right decision for them as an individual. & # 39;
Statins, which work by lowering cholesterol, which reduces the risk of heart damage from clogged arteries, have long been a matter of debate.
They are the most commonly prescribed drugs in the UK, costing the NHS millions of pounds a year, but are relatively inexpensive at the individual level.
The Irish study found that the annual cost of statins in the country increased from € 13.9 million (£ 12.04 million) in 1987 to € 107.1 million (£ 92.8 million) in 2016 due to more flexible regulations .
However, many people take them before they ever have serious heart problems, some experts say they are meaningless.
The British Heart Foundation does not agree with this and states that all prevention is a positive move.
Regarding the investigation into NUI Galway, the medical director of the BHF, professor Jeremy Pearson, said: “There is no doubt that statins significantly reduce the risk of heart attack in people at risk.
& # 39; That is why threshold guidelines have become wider and more people than ever are being offered the medicine.
& # 39; When it comes to costs, NICE [National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, the NHS watchdog] suggests that both low-risk and high-risk individuals prescribed statins can provide long-term economic benefits. & # 39;
Statins are also controversial because they can cause unpleasant side effects in patients who use them.
Commonly reported side effects are headache, muscle pain and nausea.
Statins can also increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, hepatitis, pancreatitis and vision problems or memory loss.
Dr. Aseem Malhotra, an NHS consultant cardiologist, said the statins of many people do more harm than good
Dr. Aseem Malhotra, a cardiologist from the NHS consultant, told MailOnline: & # 39; The huge increase in patients who now & # 39; Eligibility for Statins reflects a worrying influence of the pharmaceutical industry on medical guidelines, not what is best for patients.
& # 39; The only patients to be offered statins with shared decision making are patients with a very high risk of heart attacks or patients with familial hyperlipidamia, a genetic disorder that affects approximately 1 in 250 people.
& # 39; For everyone else, that's more than two-thirds of those prescribed statins around the world, the evidence is very clear that statins do more harm than good. & # 39;
Professor Kausik Ray, professor of public health at Imperial College London, criticized the study and said the prescription guidelines should not change.
He compared taking statins with buying insurance – many people will never need it, but that doesn't make it a waste of money.
& # 39; The guidelines are based on evidence and health economics, & # 39; said Professor Ray.
& # 39; These should not change. There is a misconception that doctors force patients to take medication. They do not.
& # 39; During the consultation, the risks are discussed and depending on … how risk-avoiding [patients] are or, often, how much they are against taking medication, most come to the right decision for them.
& # 39; This is similar to buying insurance. Many do not have to make a claim, but whether someone chooses to buy it depends on the risk perception.
& # 39; That is a different concept than denying which trials have shown where the benefits are irrefutable. & # 39;
The study by Irish researchers was published in the British Journal of General Practice.