A new study suggests that statins should be prescribed to healthy people on the NHS to prevent unexpected heart attacks and strokes.
Statins could be prescribed to healthy people on the NHS
Researchers at Oxford University reviewed 27 trials of around 175,000 patients. Writing in the Lancet, they found that even patients at low risk of heart attacks and strokes benefitted from taking statins.
Current rules from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommend statins for people who have a 20 per cent or greater chance of developing cardiovascular disease within 10 years.
Every year over 150,000 people have a stroke and it is the third largest cause of death. There were just over 92,000 heart attacks in England between April 2010 and April 2011.
Researcher Professor Baigent said: "Half of [these] deaths come out of the blue in people who were previously healthy.
"If we are going to prevent that half of cardiac or stroke deaths, then we've got to consider treating healthy people.”
But the authors of the study calculated that lowering the threshold for prescribing statins to a 10% risk of cardiovascular disease within a decade would lead to five million people taking the drugs. This would save 2,000 lives and prevent 10,000 heart attacks or strokes every year.
Now, NICE is reviewing the evidence to decide whether the threshold should be lowered. Their conclusions will be published towards the end of 2013. The organisation said:
"New evidence on statin treatment thresholds that has become available since publication of the original NICE guideline, including the study reported in the Lancet, will be considered as part of our review."
However, the side-effects from statins will need to be considered before the drugs are prescribed to healthy people. Statins have been linked to liver problems, kidney failure, muscle weakness and an increased risk of diabetes.
Medical emergencies are not covered by health insurance. If you require emergency care, you will be treated on the NHS in Accident and Emergency. After you are stabilised, you will be transferred to a private ward in an NHS hospital or to a private hospital to be treated.
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