'People who should take statins but don't raise their risk of dying by up to a third, a study has warned.
The cholesterol-lowering pills taken by millions are among the 'most effective' drugs for heart disease, scientists say, but people aren't good enough at taking them.
Someone who only takes their medication half the time is 30 per cent more likely to die in a given year than someone who takes them more than 90 per cent of the time, the study said.
And this risk rises even more for people who stop taking them altogether. Experts have called the research 'powerful' and 'impressive'.
The study, done by Stanford University in California, followed more than 340,000 military veterans in the US with coronary artery disease.
Within the first year of the study, almost 22,000 deaths were associated with people's use of statins.
People who take their statins less than 50 per cent of the time – for less than six months of the year, in total – are the most likely to die of heart disease.
And the risk of death gets gradually lower as the statins intake rises.
'Although statins are among the most effective drugs for the secondary prevention of [heart disease], low adherence is a common problem,' the study said.
'Low adherence [is] associated with higher levels of cholesterol and higher rates of hospitalisation from stroke and ischemic disease.'
The research found ethnic minorities – particularly African Americans and Hispanics – women, and the young and elderly are most likely to neglect their meds.'
Read more: Heart patients who fail to take statins as prescribed are a THIRD more likely to die within a year, study finds
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