Questions raised over proposed new guidance on statins

11 June 2014        

Pack of statins/cholesterol/hypercholestemia tablets

Doctors have sent a letter to health secretary Jeremy Hunt and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence arguing against proposals which could see statins prescribed to more people.

The cholesterol-lowering drug is currently prescribed for people who have a 20% chance of suffering a heart attack or stroke within the next 10 years.

NICE is considering lowering this threshold to people with a 10% risk as part of new draft guidelines which are currently out for consultation.

A group of physicians have argued that this threshold should not be lowered in an open letter issued today.

However, Mike Knapton, our Associate Medical Director, welcomes NICE’s decision to review its current guidelines.

He said: “People with high cholesterol are at significantly greater risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. That’s why it’s vital to reduce your cholesterol levels either through medication or lifestyle changes.

“Evidence shows that statins are a safe, effective, cholesterol-lowering drug and proven to lower the risk of heart disease.

“NICE has taken the sensible decision to reconsider the threshold for who should be prescribed statins. However, looking at someone’s risk of heart disease in the next ten years is too short a time frame. We should be taking a more holistic approach by looking at a person’s risk over their whole lifetime as recently recommended by leading cardiovascular organisations.

“In the meantime, it is important that anyone who has already been prescribed statins continues to take them as advised by their doctor to help maintain a healthy heart.”