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ENGLEMED HEALTH NEWS

Rethink call on statin guidelines

Tuesday August 1st, 2017

GP leaders today reject an analysis which suggests that all men over the age of 60 should be prescribed statins.

An international research team says that the latest UK guidelines mean that nearly 12 million people should be prescribed the drugs.

The analysis in the British Journal of General Practice seeks to explore the implications of recent guidance that the risk level for statins should be reduced. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence said in 2014 that the threshold should be a 10% risk of a cardiovascular event within ten years - rather than 20%.

The researchers, from Harvard's school of public health in the USA and from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, say the best estimate of risk is the QRISK2 tool developed in Nottingham.

But this assigns a risk of 10% to all men over the age of 60.

They warn that GPs would have to prescribe statins to an extra 200 patients on average.

But Royal College of GPs chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said the findings suggested more work was needed on the risk scores.

She said: "If we find that all men over 60 and all women over 75 are going to be eligible for statins with new risk scoring, regardless of any other risk factor, then it should ring alarm bells – because it is not clear that every 60-year-old man or 75-year-old woman is going to benefit from statin therapy.

“As with any drug, taking statin medication has potential side-effects, and taking any medication long term is a substantial undertaking for patients. Many don’t want to take statins once they have learned all the facts – and GPs will respect patient choice."

She added: "We agree with researchers that the workload implications for GPs and our teams with so many people being potentially eligible for statin therapy is enormous, so this must be matched with appropriate resources.”

Application of the 2014 NICE cholesterol guidelines in the English population: a cross-sectional analysis BJGP 1 August 2017 [abstract]

Tags: Heart Health | NHS | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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