NICE Recommends Wider Use of Statins to Cut Heart Disease Deaths
Starting statin therapy earlier in people with lower risks of cardiovascular disease (CVD) could save thousands of lives and billions of dollars annually, according to guidance issued Friday from the UK’s healthcare costs regulator.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended offering statins to people with a 10 percent — instead of 20 percent — risk of developing CVD, a move that would encompass an additional 4.5 million people and could save 8,000 lives every three years within a decade. The new threshold also could help prevent up to 28,000 heart attacks and 16,000 strokes each year, NICE added.
This would also result in significant cost savings. The disease is estimated to have cost the UK’s National Health Service nearly $13.5 billion in 2010, up from roughly $12 billion in 2003, the guidance says.
NICE says general practitioners should start statin treatment for the primary prevention of CVD with atorvastatin 20 mg. Patients with established CVD, type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes should be offered a higher strength, 80 mg dose of the drug.
Pfizer produces atorvastatin under the brand name Lipitor. The drug also is available as a generic. Pfizer spokesman MacKay Jimeson said Lipitor has been shown in multiple clinical trials to significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in a broad range of patients. “Pfizer is in favor of evidence-based medical guidelines that improve outcomes for patients at cardiovascular risk, given that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide,” he told DID.
Not everyone with a 10 percent or greater risk of CVD within 10 years will need to take a statin. NICE advises people to adopt preventative lifestyle measures first.
Still, broadening the range of people who take statins will reduce CDV risks, which is the UK’s biggest killer, says Liam Smeeth, a professor of clinical epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The disease today causes one in three deaths in the country, accounting for 180,000 deaths annually, he said.
Read the NICE guidance on statins here: www.fdanews.com/ext/resources/files/07/07-14-NICE-Guidance.pdf. — Jonathon Shacat