New rules to boost statin use

Millions more patients are set to be prescribed statins.

From early next year, everyone aged between 40 and 75 will be advised to consider taking the cholesterol-busting drug if they have a 10 per cent chance of suffering a heart attack within 10 years.

Previously statins had been offered only to people who have a 20 per cent risk. The change follows new guidance from NICE, The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

It could see an additional 4.5 million patients offered the drugs, bringing the total of eligible people to 17 million – around 40 per cent of all adults in England.

If everyone eligible took statins between 20,000 and 50,000 deaths could be prevented every year, NICE claims.

However, GPs’ leaders warn that doctors could find themselves spending to much time dealing with the “worried well” at the expense of sick patients.

Cholesterol is essential for your body to work well, but too much ‘bad cholesterol’ (called low-density lipoprotein or LDL) is unhealthy. Statins reduce the amount of ‘bad cholesterol’ your body makes.

High levels of ‘bad cholesterol’ in your blood can lead to fatty deposits building up in your arteries. This can increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, which includes conditions such as coronary heart disease  (leading to angina and heart attack) and stroke.

Your body will always make cholesterol so if you stop taking a statin, it’s likely your cholesterol levels will rise. If you are prescribed a statin, you need to take it every day. Statins are most beneficial when you take them on a long-term basis.

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