Use of cholesterol drug in middle age lowers heart risks for decades later, study finds

Research shows that taking a cholesterol-lowering drug for five years in middle age can lower heart and death risks for decades afterward. The benefits seem to grow over time and may last for life.

The news comes from 20-year follow-up of a study in Scotland that was the first to show that taking a statin helped prevent heart attacks and deaths in people who had not yet developed clogged arteries.

Half of the men in the study took the statin for five years and the rest, dummy pills. A similar portion of both groups took statins after the study ended. Heart attacks and deaths remain far fewer among those who started on them at the outset.

The study was discussed at an American Heart Association conference Wednesday.