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Millions of people could be on statins if NICE guidelines followed, says research

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Do NICE guidelines make appropriate recommendations for prescribing statins?

A study by a Harvard University researcher has found that almost all men over 60 and all women over 75 in England would qualify for statin prescriptions based on National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines from 2014.

Of the 11.8m people in England (37% of adults aged 30 to 84) who exceed the NICE threshold for taking statins, 9.8m are healthy. People who are non smokers of normal weight with low cholesterol and no history of cardiovascular disease are eligible for statins under the NICE guidelines because of their age, says the study.

The NICE threshold of a 10% risk of experiencing an event over the next 10 years is calculated by QRISK2, a tool which puts a high premium on age.

On average, around 200 patients per GP are eligible for statins but not getting them says the report.

NICE also recommends that all patients with chronic kidney disease take statins to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Chair of the Royal College of GPs Helen Stokes-Lampard said: ‘We need to get the risk scores right. If all men over 60 and women over 75 are eligible for statins it should ring alarm bells.’ Taking any drug has potential side effects and long-term use is a substantial undertaking for patients, she said.

Further information

BMJNICE guidelines could put 12m UK adults on statins

NICE: Statins should be offered to everyone who has chronic kidney disease, says NICE

RCGP: Important to get risk scores right on statins, says RCGP