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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Statins should be more widely prescribed

17th May 2012

Researchers have called for the wider prescribing of statins to help cut the numbers of heart attacks and strokes.


The team from the University of Oxford found in their study of 175,000 patients, published in The Lancet, that even those at low risk could benefit from the cholesterol-lowering medication.

However, while they suggest the NHS should give statins to healthy people, there is widespread debate over whether medicating people works or if it is socially acceptable.

The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence is currently reviewing the evidence with its conclusions due to be published at the end of next year, though its present guidance recommends statins for people who have a 20% or greater chance of developing cardiovascular disease within 10 years.

Researcher Professor Colin Baigent said: “What we’ve actually learned is that, whatever your level of cholesterol, reducing it further is beneficial. Whatever your level of risk, the benefits greatly exceed any known hazard.”

He suggests that lowering the threshold for prescribing statins to a 10% risk of cardiovascular disease within a decade would lead to five million more people taking the drugs, saving 2,000 lives and preventing 10,000 heart attacks or strokes every year.

Professor Shah Ebrahim from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine initially urged caution after reviewing evidence last year, but now acknowledges: “This research provides further evidence that statins are an effective and safe way of reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes even among people at quite low risk of these conditions.”


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