But a separate study suggested increasing dose of simvastatin from 20mg to 80mg also raises the risk of potentially harmful myopathy.
In the primary study, researchers conducted a meta-analysis of data from 170,000 patients across 26 randomised trials.
They compared both the effect of more and less intensive statin treatment, and the effect of statin treatment versus control.
Researchers found that, across all 26 studies, all-cause mortality was reduced by 10% per 1mmol/L cholesterol reduction
Comparing more and less intensive statin treatment, coronary deaths and non-fatal MI fell 13%; there were 19% fewer surgical procedures for heart disease and the number of strokes fell 16%.
Over five years, intensive cholesterol control would protect an additional four per 100 patients from MI, stroke or related hospital procedure.
But a second study, also published in the Lancet, showed myopathy increased from 0.03% in the simvastatin 20mg group to 0.9% in the simvastatin 80mg group.
Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the BHF, warned about simply increasing statin dose in light of increased side-effects.
‘Doctors may wish to consider switching patients to alternative treatments, such as combining statins with other cholesterol-lowering drugs, rather than ramping up the dose,’ he said.