Treatment with higher doses of statins is usually the best way of lowering cholesterol levels, suggests a comprehensive review study.
"Statins are proven medications that can reduce heart attacks and strokes by about 30 percent in the patients that need them," said Matt Ito, study author and professor of pharmacy practice at Oregon State University.
"What we looked at here was whether adding other drugs or therapy to the use of statins could further reduce problems, and in most cases the research indicates that they didn't help," added Ito, the journal Annals of Pharmacotherapy reported.
"What did help was increasing the statin dose to higher levels within the range for which they are approved. And there did not appear to be a significant change in side effects based on any approved dosage," said Ito, according to an Oregon statement.
The review examined the range of treatment options for "dyslipidemia", or concerns about LDL cholesterol that is too high; HDL cholesterol that is too low; elevated triglycerides; and other issues that affect millions of people around the world.
It concluded that use of statin drugs, which effectively lower LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, is appropriate for both moderate and high risk patients who have issues with their cholesterol levels, or may already have experienced a heart attack or angina as a result of cardiovascular disease.
But it also found that in most cases simply increasing the statin dose would offer the best protection against serious cardiovascular problems, more so than using other drugs or combinations of drugs.