GIVE STATINS TO EVERYONE OVER 50
Statins could be a real lifesaver
Thursday May 17,2012
By Jo Willey
CHOLESTEROL-busting statin drugs could save thousands of lives a year if they were prescribed to everyone over 50, scientists said yesterday.
Researchers at Oxford University say half of fatalities from cardiovascular disease happen “completely out of the blue” to people with no family history or previous symptoms of heart attack or stroke.
They recommend millions more adults be given the pills, which cost as little as 4p a day, even if they are thought to be at low risk.
More than six million adults already take statins to reduce their levels of artery-clogging “bad” cholesterol, saving around 10,000 lives each year.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence currently recommends statins are given to those with a 20 per cent or greater chance of developing cardiovascular disease within 10 years.
However, writing online for the medical journal The Lancet, the scientists recommend lowering the threshold to a 10 per cent risk over 10 years.
If we are going to prevent these events, we have to consider offering statins to healthy people
They say this would see an extra five million people given statins, slashing heart attacks and strokes by 10,000 a year and saving at least 2,000 lives.
Lead researcher Professor Colin Baigent said: “If we are going to prevent these events, we have to consider offering statins to healthy people.”
The researchers examined data on 175,000 patients who took part in 27 separate trials on statins and said there was no evidence of increased incidence of cancer or deaths from other causes.
In an accompanying article, Professor Shah Ebrahim and Dr Juan Casas, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, recommend giving the drugs to everyone over 50, also saving between £7 and £700 per patient for screening.
They wrote: “Because most people older than 50 are likely to be at a greater than 10 per cent 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease, it would be more pragmatic to use age as the only indicator of statin prescription.”
The study was part-funded by the British Heart Foundation.