LONDON - Statins have fewer side effects than previously thought, new research published today in the European Heart Journal suggests.

The drugs, which are taken by millions in Britain to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, should continue to be prescribed to combat high cholesterol because the side effects reported by patients may be “overestimated and overdiagnosed”, the study found.

Previous studies have estimated that the prevalence of statin intolerance may be as high as 50%, but data drawn from more than four million people suggested it is likely to be below 10%.