Should statins be offered to more people?

Posted by Patricia Wakeford on

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The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has asked for input from health professionals to consider offering statins to a wider class of people, with a lower risk of cardio vascular disease (CVD), than is offered at present.

Currently, only people with a 20 per cent or greater 10-year risk of developing CVD are offered statins. Draft guidance now recommends offering statins to people who have a 10 per cent or greater 10-year risk of developing CVD.

There are cost implications of such a change. At present approximately £285 million is spent a year on statins for the seven million people who take them already. This cost would increase if this draft guidance were to become a recommendation.

Risk tools can be used to estimate a person's chance of developing CVD and it is suggested GPs use their discretion as to whether to prescribe statins even if people are perceived to have a lower risk using the risk tool.

Professor Mark Baker, Director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE said: "Smoking, high blood pressure and raised cholesterol levels are big causes of cardiovascular disease, especially in people with more than one of the factors. But the risk is measurable and we can substantially reduce someone's chance of a heart attack, angina, stroke and the other symptoms of cardiovascular disease by tackling the risk factors".

If the cost of caring for those with CVD can be minimised by prescribing statins; this may be a good way of reducing NHS costs over time. Prevention is also meant to be better than cure.

Registered stakeholders, such as professional and government organisations, patient and carer groups, and companies, have until the 26 March 2014 to comment on the draft guidance.

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About the Author

Photograph of Patricia Wakeford

Patricia is a Senior Associate, in our Clinical Negligence team, and is also a qualified midwife with many years of experience working in the NHS.

Patricia Wakeford
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