UK health authorities discuss potential impact of statin study

Results of an analysis of observational data published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that continuous use of statins in patients with no indication of cardiovascular disease and patients with known coronary heart disease (CHD) resulted in at least a 45-percent decrease in the risk of death, compared with those who had a lower continuity of treatment. In the UK, health authorities discussed the potential impact the study results could have on statin prescribing.

The national director for heart disease and stroke, Roger Boyle, indicated that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence would review whether or not more people should be receiving statins. A spokesperson for NICE said the agency has asked for input from consultees to inform it "of any evidence that suggests a review would be beneficial," adding that a confirmation of whether current guidelines on statins will be reviewed might be given by the end of March. Current guidance for the drugs recommends usage either when a patient has clinical evidence of CHD or when the risk of developing the disease within 10 years is estimated to be 20 percent or above.

The retrospective study examined data for nearly 230 000 adults who began therapy with statins from 1998 through 2006. The study, which had a mean follow-up period of four to five years, included patients with no indication of CHD (primary prevention) as well as patients with known CHD (secondary prevention). The authors concluded that "the observed benefits from statins were greater than expected from randomised clinical trials, emphasizing the importance of promoting statin therapy and increasing its continuation over time for both primary and secondary prevention."

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