Millions of people at risk of having a heart attack and stroke may be given the choice of whether they’d like to take statins under new guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice). Until now, only people with a 10% or higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke within 10 years are routinely offered a statin to help reduce their risk.
Millions of people who are at risk of having a heart attack and stroke may be given the choice of whether they’d like to take statins under new guidance
Until now, only people with a 10% or higher risk of having a heart attack of stroke within 10 years are routinely offered a statin to help reduce their risk.
But new guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) said that people with a lower risk should also be able to decide whether they’d like to start taking one, too. This risk could be calculated by a blood pressure or cholesterol check at the GP.
Nice still advises GPs to advise patients to live a healthy lifestyle, in order to help control their risk, but say that a statin is an option that can also be explored.
According to Nice’s estimations, for every 1,000 people with a 5% risk over the next ten years who take a statin, a statin will prevent heart disease or stroke in around 20 people. This doubles to 40 for people with a risk of 10%.
Paul , director of the centre for guidelines at Nice, said: "What we’re saying is that for people with a less than 10% risk over ten years of a first heart attack or stroke, the decision to take a statin should be left to individual patients after an informed discussion of benefits and risks.
"The evidence is clear, in our view, that for people with a risk of 10% or less over ten years, statins are an appropriate choice to reduce that risk. We are not advocating that statins are used alone.
"The draft guideline continues to say that it is only if lifestyle changes on their own are not sufficient, and that other risk factors such as hypertension are also managed, that people who are still at risk can be offered the opportunity to use a statin, if they want to."
Professor Graham MacGregor, Chair of Blood Pressure UK said: “Statins are a useful tool in a GP’s toolbox for some patients at increased risk of high blood pressure. It’s always encouraging when there are more options for patients – but it’s important to emphasise the importance of a healthy lifestyle alongside any other treatments.”