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Three key issues in trying to increase the use of statins in the UK

Statistics from the OECD show that the per capita use of statins in the UK is the highest in Europe and the second highest in all OECD countries. There are a number of reasons for this, which include the emphasis on evidence-based medicine in the training of UK doctors; the 2004 GP contract which introduced incentives for the management of long-term conditions such as coronary heart disease and diabetes; and the NHS Health Check programme which aims (amongst its objectives) to increase the use of statins for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in people with a 20% or more 10-year risk of CVD.

The National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE) is now proposing to reduce the threshold for starting statins for the primary prevention of CVD from its current threshold of a 20% 10-year CVD risk to a 10% 10-year CVD risk. Although this could have significant benefits for the health of the population, there are three issues that need to be considered. These issues are: GP funding and workload, the willingness of people to take part in CVD primary prevention programmes; and the need for accurate information on the side-effects of statins.

The full-text of this blog can be read on the BMJ Blogs Site.


Geoffrey Rivett said…
Anecdotal evidence cuts no ice, but I am personally interested in side effects. I have had three periods on two different statins over a couple of years. While taking them I have discomfort in both quads and feelings of weakness (including a couple of falls), and develop easy bruising of my hands. Blood tests have shown no abnormalities (save my modestly raised cholesterol). Within two weeks of stopping (on three occasions) the aches have gone and so have the bruises. So I have stopped statins and am going down to the local swimming pool to exercise instead. I do worry about the completeness of recording of side effects and am quite sure that my GP has not reported the ones that I have experienced. Let us hope that those denying the significance of side effects are proved right, or once more the profession will have done substantial harm to the population.

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