Researchers reviewed studies of adherence to statin medication in clinical trials and in normal practice.
They compared the effect of increasing adherence by 50% with the effect of reducing the risk threshold for prescribing statins (from a 20% chance of developing incident cardiovascular disease over ten years to a 15.5% chance).
They estimated that around twice as many deaths from cardiovascular disease would be prevented by increasing adherence from 50% to 75% as from relaxing prescribing guidelines.
Writing in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the researchers commented: ‘Failure to take account of adherence levels that are typically achieved in practice can lead to an overestimation of the potential benefits from chemopreventive strategies. It may also inadvertently result in policies for the use of statins that fail to maximise benefits from their use.'