Statins, one of the most widely prescribed medicines for heart patients, may not be helpful in preventing a heart attack, according to experts.

Statins are found effective in lowering the levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol and are used for the prevention of repeat heart attacks and strokes in patients with high cholesterol who have had already had a heart attack.

However, the use statins as means to for primary prevention of heart attacks and strokes, is being disputed.

"There's a conspiracy of false hope," Harvard Medical School's Dr. John Abramson, who has co-written several critiques of statins' rise, says. "The public wants an easy way to prevent heart disease, doctors want to reduce their patients' risk of heart disease and drug companies want to maximize the number of people taking their pills to boost their sales and profits."

Statins certainly decrease rates of heart attack in people who have clear signs of cardiovascular disease, but it's not so clear they work that way in people who are healthy, the experts say.

Leading medical journal the Archives of Internal Medicine has been currently debating the issue through a series of articles.

Contrary to the widely held belief, medical researchers found that statins do not drive down death rates among those who take them to prevent a first heart attack, according to data gleaned from the first of the three studies published in the journal last month.

A second article cast significant doubt on the influential findings of a 2006 study, called JUPITER that has driven the expansion of statins' use by healthy people with elevated blood levels of C-reactive protein, a measure of inflammation.

The third study indicated clinical and financial conflicts of interest at work in the execution of the JUPITER study and concluded that the widely hailed trial was "flawed" and raised "troubling questions concerning the role of commercial sponsors."

"Tens of billions of dollars of revenue for the sponsor over the patent life of the drug were at stake in the JUPITER trial, as well as potentially millions of dollars in royalties for the principal investigator," writes Dr. Lee Green of the University Of Michigan Medical School in an editorial accompanying the trio of studies.

"Doubtless, both sponsor and investigative team believes they made their design decisions for the right reasons, "but social psychology research provides abundant evidence that we human beings both respond strongly to self-interest incentives and firmly believe that we do not," he says.

More than 24 million Americans take statin drugs marketed under such commercial names as Pravachol, Mevacor, Lipitor, Zocor and Crestor.