Study backs wider use of statins

American Heart Association Conference - Statins benefits - Flu jabs - Vitamins in CVD.

GPs should consider ignoring 'outdated' NICE advice after a landmark trial found that statins could protect healthy men and women against cardiovascular disease, experts say.

The findings of the JUPITER study, presented at the AHA conference in New Orleans, could pave the way for more aggressive statin treatment and call into question current NICE guidance. NICE recommends statins for people with a 20 per cent risk of developing CVD in the next 10 years.

But the JUPITER study showed that statins can cut major cardiovascular events among healthy people with a risk between 10-20 per cent.

The study involved 17,802 healthy men and women who were randomly assigned to receive rosuvastatin 20mg or placebo daily.

Overall, the researchers found that rosuvastatin cut heart attack risk by 54 per cent in people with normal cholesterol levels and total mortality by 44 per cent. The findings were so strong that the study was halted after just 1.9 years instead of the full five years after it became clear that participants given the placebo had an increased risk of CVD events and death.

Lead researcher Dr Paul Ridker, from the Brigham and Women's Hospital at Harvard Medical School, said all subgroups in the study, including women and ethnic minority groups, benefited from rosuvastatin.

'These drugs are effective at lowering the hard endpoint of the study, total mortality,' he said.

Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, told GP: 'The outcomes of this study are impressive. It adds to the growing tsunami of data to show that statins save lives and can be used for primary prevention.'

Dr Terry McCormack, former chairman of the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society said the results were 'astonishing'. 'NICE is slow to update its guidance. GPs should take guidance with a pinch of salt and take the findings of JUPITER into account.'

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

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