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ENGLEMED HEALTH NEWS

Millions more could get cholesterol drugs

Wednesday February 12th, 2014

Experts have welcomed proposals, published today, to extend the use of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs to millions of patients at low risk of heart disease.

Statins are now used widely to prevent heart disease - but guidelines proposed today will suggest their use could be even wider.

Current UK guidelines state that statins should be given to people who have a 20% risk of developing heart disease within ten years.

New proposals, from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, suggest the level of risk should be reduced to 10%.

It will mean reducing the levels of cholesterol that trigger doctors to offer the drugs.

According to some estimates, five million extra people could be prescribed the drugs, including most men over the age of 50.

NICE is set to hold a consultation on the change to its guidelines.

Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said the proposals "make sense."

He said: “Reducing your cholesterol level, whether that’s through medication or lifestyle changes, will reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

“The current guidance weighed the benefits of taking a statin against what was then the considerable cost to the health service. This pragmatic decision made sure that those of highest risk benefitted.

“However, as most people who have a heart attack or stroke have average cholesterol levels and since statins are now much cheaper it makes sense to reconsider the threshold.”

Tags: Heart Health | NHS | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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