- Between 2002 and 2010 the death rate in men fell dramatically from 78.7 per 100,000 to 39.2
- Death rate among women fell from 37.3 to 17.7
By LARISA BROWN
Statins have played a significant role in slashing the number of deaths from heart attacks by half.
The 'wonderdrug' can reduce cholesterol and protect against a host of chronic illnesses.
Experts have said the drug has contributed to the saving of millions of lives over the past ten years.
Between 2002 and 2010 the death rate in men fell dramatically from 78.7 per 100,000 to 39.2, figures show.
In comparison, the death rate among women fell from 37.3 to 17.7, according to the British Heart Foundation.
Professor Peter Weissburg, medical director of the foundation, told the Daily Express: 'Around 50 per cent fewer people are having heart attacks in the first place and statins play a big part on primary and secondary intervention.
'Until statins came along we didn't have drugs that were effective and safe.'
Every day eight million people in the UK take various statins, which cost as little as 40p a day.
Simvastatin is the most frequently prescribed one; last year GPs gave out almost three million prescriptions for it in England alone.
Their widespread use, combined with healthier lifestyles, has led to far fewer people having heart attacks.
Mr Weissburg added: 'The fall in the number of deaths from heart attacks has actually been dropping for the past 20 years and some of that is to do with lifestyle'.
Mr Weissburg said fewer people smoking, better control of blood pressure and better treatment for those who have suffered a heart attack, as well as statins, have contributed to the fall.
The success of statins in combating fatal heart attacks has led to some doctors calling for everyone over 50 to be prescribed the pills.
They protect against heart attacks, heart disease and strokes, as well as some cancers.
In November it was reported that thousands of people taking a common statin were to have their dose reduced over fears of side effects.
Side effects can include insomnia, bowel problems, headaches and loss of sensation or pain in the hands and feet.
The medicines regulator warned that patients taking one particular type - simvastatin - at the same time as other drugs used to reduce high blood pressure were likely to suffer more muscle aches and pains.