Daily Express - - Front Page - By Hanna Geissler Health Re­porter

HIGHER doses of statins could pre­vent 12,000 heart at­tacks and strokes a year, a study has found.

Re­searchers an­a­lysed the com­bined ef­fect of statin treat­ment and the de­gree to which pa­tients fol­low med­i­cal ad­vice and take med­i­ca­tion cor­rectly in al­most 30,000 cases.

Those on higher doses who took their med­i­ca­tion as di­rected saw the great­est drop in “bad” choles­terol, re­sult­ing in a 40 per cent re­duc­tion in their risk of suf­fer­ing a car­dio­vas­cu­lar event, com­pared with

those not on med­i­ca­tion. Lead study au­thor Pro­fes­sor Kausik Ray, of Im­pe­rial Col­lege Lon­don, said: “In terms of risk re­duc­tion, we can see the peo­ple who do the best are those who are ad­her­ing to the rec­om­mended dosage and are on more po­tent drug reg­i­mens.

“But if some­one is not go­ing to take a treat­ment as rec­om­mended, they may ac­tu­ally be bet­ter off on higher doses of statins so when tak­ing the med­i­ca­tion, they achieve greater choles­terol re­duc­tions.”

Statins help lower LDL choles­terol lev­els in the blood, pre­vent­ing the build-up of plaques that can nar­row ar­ter­ies and lead to a heart at­tack or stroke.


Re­searchers at Im­pe­rial Col­lege Lon­don and Le­ices­ter Univer­sity an­a­lysed fig­ures from the Clin­i­cal Prac­tice Re­search Datalink, which in­cludes five mil­lion records from more than 450 GP prac­tices.

Pa­tients were scored us­ing a mea­sure com­bin­ing the in­ten­sity of treat­ment they re­ceived (statins alone or com­bined with an­other choles­terol-low­er­ing drug called eze­tim­ibe) and their ad­her­ence.

Those who took their med­i­ca­tion as pre­scribed 80 per cent of the time were classed as “ad­her­ent”.

In pa­tients with es­tab­lished heart dis­ease, an av­er­age of 72 car­dio­vas­cu­lar events were ob­served per 1,000 pa­tients a year. But with high-dose med­i­ca­tion and high ad­her­ence, this would be ex­pected to fall to 48 per 1,000 pa­tients a year.

That is a re­duc­tion of 12,000 cases based on the UK’s es­ti­mated 500,000 heart pa­tients.

The re­port, pub­lished in the jour­nal JAMA Net­work Open, said that pa­tients on low doses of statins with poor ad­her­ence had a risk re­duc­tion of five per cent.

Prof Sir Nilesh Samani, of the Bri­tish Heart Foun­da­tion, said:

“This is real-world ev­i­dence that tak­ing your medicine as pre­scribed re­ally can make all the dif­fer­ence.

“It’s a timely re­minder, given the mis­in­for­ma­tion about statins, that may stop some peo­ple from tak­ing them as pre­scribed.”

Con­flict­ing in­for­ma­tion on statins and pos­si­ble side-ef­fects mean some pa­tients stop tak­ing them.

Prof Kam­lesh Khunti, the re­port’s co-lead au­thor, said: “Ad­her­ence to lipid-low­er­ing ther­apy is poor within

the first six months. Stud­ies show 40–60 per cent of peo­ple are not ad­her­ent to statin ther­a­pies.”

To im­prove ad­her­ence, re­searchers sug­gest doc­tors should spend more time ex­plain­ing to pa­tients the ben­e­fits and risks of the drugs.

Prof Ray added: “It doesn’t mat­ter how pa­tients get to this point, what we know is that once you have one heart at­tack or other car­dio­vas­cu­lar event, you are at much higher risk of more events in fu­ture and that low­er­ing your LDL choles­terol lev­els is key to im­prov­ing out­comes.

“For them, tak­ing the right med­i­ca­tion, at the right dose, at the right time and stick­ing to this reg­i­men is crit­i­cal in low­er­ing their risk of fu­ture car­dio­vas­cu­lar events.”

Heart and cir­cu­la­tory dis­ease ac­counts for a quar­ter of all UK deaths and kills an av­er­age of 420 peo­ple ev­ery day.

THE shock­ing story of how Christo­pher Barnes and his partner Lucy Palmer preyed on vul­ner­a­ble el­derly peo­ple, pre­tend­ing to be their car­ers, emp­ty­ing their bank ac­counts and even tak­ing their homes off them and mov­ing them into car­a­vans is a cau­tion­ary tale for 21st-cen­tury Bri­tain.

The cou­ple even re­cruited their young chil­dren as they acted like a sur­ro­gate fam­ily for the lonely pen­sion­ers to soften them up be­fore tak­ing them for ev­ery­thing they had. This evil gang and its ter­ri­ble crimes un­der­lines why we need far tougher sen­tences on those who tar­get pen­sion­ers.

There is no doubt that Barnes and Palmer should feel the full weight of the law, as should those who have com­mit­ted sim­i­lar heinous acts. The Daily Ex­press has been run­ning a cru­sade de­mand­ing that those found guilty of breach­ing their trust as car­ers and oth­ers who steal from them or vi­o­lently at­tack them should also be con­victed of a hate crime.

The law now recog­nises that at­tacks on other cat­e­gories of vic­tims, so why not on pen­sion­ers? It is dis­gust­ing that crimes such as this do not have a spe­cial cat­e­gory and those re­spon­si­ble may get lighter sen­tences than if they had tar­geted dif­fer­ent groups in so­ci­ety.

In Bri­tain we need a cul­ture that re­spects the el­derly and pro­tects them and pun­ishes those who rob them of their money, health and dig­nity.

Statins lower ‘bad’ choles­terol lev­els

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