New Drug to Combat HeartDisease

By Oliver Graham-Yooll

NHS rethinks guidelines as international drug trial shows statins to prevent heart disease.

The study that included 17, 800 men and women, who were described as having normal cholesterol levels, discovered that the drug rosuvastatin reduced the threat of heart attacks and strokes. Funded by AstraZeneca.

These results published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that currently statins are only offered to patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease.

The report used patients that had normal cholesterol levels but increased levels of C-reactive protein, which is believed to be a marker of future cardiovascular problems.

Over a space of 2 years it was found that 20mg of rosuvastatin was found to cut Cholesterol by 50%, C-reactive protein by 37% and reducing the chances of heart disease by 44%.

Dr Terry McCormack, a GP in Whitby, North Yorkshire, and ex-chairman of the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society, said the results were “astonishing”

“These are people who have an statin1intermediate risk and you wouldn’t normally prescribe statins for them in the UK,” he said.

The drugs already cost the NHS budget around £500 million pounds a year. With a change of guidelines to cover a wider range of society costs to the NHS could go into the billions.

As a preventative medicine the saving to the British economy may outweigh the cost.

Professor Roger Boyle, the government’s National Director for Heart Disease in England described the plans to increase the distribution.

He stated: “The number could at least double from roughly 3 million at the moment taking statin drugs to certainly 6 or 7 million people.”

Dr Stephen Fox, a GP from Leigh in Lancashire voiced doubts over possible side affects caused by statins in over 75 year olds.

He said: “At some point you have to ask where is the line going to be drawn – does absolutely everybody have to be on these?”