Heart drugs 'have longer effect'
Researchers found statins had long term benefits
The drugs can reduce the risk of heart attacks by a quarter in men, according to the report's lead author.
The University of Glasgow study found long-term benefits in taking statins.
People taking the drug for five years were still experiencing the benefits 10 years after they stopped taking them, with a reduced risk of heart disease.
Professor Stuart Cobbe, the leading cardiologist on the study, said: "We were very surprised to find patients who had been treated for five years with a statin continued to have significantly fewer heart attacks and other coronary events compared to those treated with a placebo treatment.
"This benefit appeared to extend at least 10 years after the original trial.
"These results are very reassuring for patients who might be concerned about safety when taking a drug for a very long period of time."
The 15 year-West of Scotland Coronary Prevention study involved 6,595 men from the region, with an average age of 55, who had high cholesterol.
They were recruited between 1989 and 1991 and split in half, with one group given a placebo and the other half given pravastatin.
Their health was followed for five years, until 1995, with the results showing that the statin users had a lower risk of strokes and heart disease.
The latest research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, examined the group 10 and 15 years later.
It found that there was a "significant" reduction in coronary problems for people who had taken statins for five years.
Professor Ian Ford, lead author of the study, said: "In fact, remarkably, five years of treatment with a statin resulted in 27% fewer non-fatal heart attacks or deaths due to heart disease over the period of 15 years.
"There was a significant 12% reduction in deaths over the entire period, with deaths due to heart disease reduced by 22%.
"This suggests that statin treatment has a long-term beneficial effect in slowing the development of coronary artery disease."Professor Peter Weissberg of the British Heart Foundation said: "This research provides yet more evidence that statins help prevent heart attacks, and therefore save lives."
Statins are taken by an estimated three million people in the UK.