TAKING statins every day cuts deaths from heart disease by more than one-quarter, according to new research.

A 20-year study, the longest of its kind, suggest the controversial pills should be prescribed to otherwise healthy males with raised levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol.

Researchers from Glasgow University and Imperial College London followed more than 5,500 Scottish men aged 45 to 64.

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They found that taking 40mg daily of pravastatin reduced mortality rates by 28 per cent.

It is the first conclusive evidence of their benefit for people with very high levels of ‘LDL’ (low density lipoprotein) and no established heart disease.

Professor Kausik Ray, of Imperial College London, said: “This is the strongest evidence yet that statins reduce the risk of heart disease and death in men with high LDL.

“Our study lends support to LDL’s status as a major driver of heart disease risk, and suggests that even modest LDL reductions might offer significant mortality benefits in the long-term.

“Our analysis firmly establishes that controlling LDL over time translates to fewer deaths in this population.”

In the UK heart disease remains the biggest killer, claiming around 160,000 lives a year.

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “This research shows the enduring and long term benefit of taking statins, including the extent to which they reduce the risk of dying from heart disease, which can only be seen in a study of this length."

The findings are published in the journal Circulation.