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Friday 28th October 2016

500,000 Scots to get statins

6th February 2007

21092006_smoker1.jpgScottish men and women are being targeted with cholesterol-lowering drugs to prevent heart disease and save around 7,000 lives.

It is expected that around half of all men aged over 40 will be advised to take statins under new guidelines, along with a fifth of women in that age group.

Everyone over the age of 40 will be risk assessed every five years by their GP, who will consider family history, smoking habits and deprivation levels to decide who is at risk.

Anyone with a 20% or higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) will be offered statins, even if they have no symptoms of heart disease. Patients will also be offered advice on lifestyle changes.

Anyone who has suffered a heart attack, stroke, angina or heart failure, or who has diabetes, is automatically classed as being at high risk, along with those with a family history of familial hypercholesterolaemia.

Under the £78m plans, the number of people in Scotland taking statins will increase fivefold to around 600,000.

The guidance from Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) could prevent 7,200 deaths and 27,000 ‘cardiovascular events’ - such as heart attacks and strokes – over the next five years.

While some of the medics behind the report wanted tougher targets to cut cholesterol, the measures have not been welcomed by everyone. Some experts fear this mass medication approach ignores the possible side effects of the drugs, which includes abdominal pain, headaches and severe muscle inflammation.

The guidelines also include advice on the best treatment of people already suffering from CVD and said the additional money spent would be saved elsewhere in the NHS, for example by fewer hospital admissions.

Heart charities said they were concerned about the mass medication approach, and that drugs were no substitute for a healthy lifestyle, such as stopping smoking, healthy eating and regular exercise, which alone could reduce CVD by 80%.

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