NICE has gone ahead with the recommendation, included in earlier drafts of the guideline, that statins should be used for primary prevention in all patients with a 10-year cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk of 20 per cent or more.
This is in line with recommendations made by the Joint British Societies' (JBS) most recent guidelines issued in December.
NICE has estimated that another 3.3 million patients will now become eligible for primary prevention with statin treatment, on top of those who should already be receiving the drugs under the NSF for CHD that set the treatment threshold at 30 per cent 10-year CHD risk
Yorkshire GP Dr Terry McCormack, chairman of the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society, supports NICE's decision to lower the treatment threshold to 20 per cent 10-year CVD risk.
'It fits in with recent JBS guidance and is sending a message out to people that taking statins could benefit lots of people,' he said.
However, he warned that the true cost to the NHS of implementing the guideline had been underestimated. 'Potentially it could produce a huge increase in GP workload and none of this addresses the economic support required for that,' he said.
Dr McCormack added that primary prevention should be included in the quality framework to ensure adequate funding.
Kent GP and CHD lead Dr Rubin Minhas said many GPs were already doing a lot of the work in primary prevention. He said clearer guidelines were needed on which patients GPs should be assessing for CVD risk.