HIGHER DOSE OF STATINS ‘SAVES LIVES’
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