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The Oxford Cholesterol Study was a single centre pilot study established in 1988 to investigate the safety and lipid-lowering efficacy of simvastatin (which was an investigational drug at that time and not yet marketed). Between November 1988 and January 1990, 621 participants were randomized to either 40mg simvastatin daily, 20mg simvastatin daily or matching placebo tablets. Participants were followed-up until 1995. The main endpoints were effects on blood lipid levels, other blood markers and reported symptoms. 

The Oxford Cholesterol Study has shown that:

  • Both 40mg and 20mg daily simvastatin decreased plasma total cholesterol (by ~ 25%)  and LDL cholesterol (by ~35%) substantially compared to placebo
  • Reductions were already present by 8 weeks after randomization and persisted throughout follow-up
  • There were no differences in the numbers of participants reporting a variety of symptoms that were routinely asked about at each follow-up visit, nor in the numbers reporting other types of symptoms
  • Sub-studies showed no effect of simvastatin on eye symptoms or lens opacities, sleep, mood or clotting factors [ADD relevant links]

Our team

  • Rory Collins
    Rory Collins

    Head of Nuffield Department of Population Health and BHF Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology

Selected Publications

Keech A., Collins R., MacMahon S., Armitage J., Lawson A., Wallendszus K., Fatemian M., Kearney E., Lyon V., Mindell J. Three-year follow-up of the Oxford Cholesterol Study: assessment of the efficacy and safety of simvastatin in preparation for a large mortality study  (1994), Eur Heart J, 15, 255 - 269

Related research themes