Up to 1.5 million are missing out on cholesterol-lowering drugs which could save thousands of lives every year, a health watchdog has claimed.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has told doctors it wants their help in identifying those at risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) who could benefit from statins.
Philip Ranson, spokesman for NICE, said about four million people in England and Wales are taking statins but that an extra could 1.5 million benefit.
Mr Ranson said: “What’s new about this guideline is that it recommends a systematic approach to identifying people at high risk of CVD.”
NICE recommends that those patients thought to have a 20% or greater 10-year risk of developing CVD be given statins.
For patients who have already experienced CVD, such as having had a heart attack or stroke, statins should be prescribed without the need to first modify other risk factors.
NICE deputy chief executive, Dr Gillian Leng, said: “This guideline will provide much needed clarity for healthcare professionals, many of whom report uncertainty in how to manage blood lipids in patients both with and without pre-existing cardiovascular disease.”
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