Thousands of heart attack deaths could be prevented if certain patients took higher doses of statins, and adhered strictly to prescription regimes, a new report has suggested.
According to estimates of researchers from Imperial College London and the University of Leicester, 12,000 cardiovascular events including heart attacks and strokes would be averted with higher dose prescriptions and greater adherence to stain treatment.
The study, published in JAMA, analysed patient data from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink.
‘This is real-world evidence showing that taking your medicine as prescribed can make all the difference,’ said Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, medical director of the British Heart Foundation. ‘If you’re taking statins, it’s essential that you continue to take them regularly, as advised by your doctor. This is even more important if you’re at high risk, which includes people who’ve already had a heart attack or stroke, or those who have inherited high cholesterol levels.’
The research focused on three groups of patients at high risk of cardiovascular events: those with established heart disease; those with diabetes but no history of heart disease; and those with chronic kidney disease but no prior heart attack and stroke.
When researchers measured the risk reduction compared to untreated patients, they found patients who were on the highest intensity treatment and had the highest adherence had the greatest reduction in LDL cholesterol levels and cardiovascular risk, with a 40% reduction in their risk of cardiovascular events.
‘This isn’t the first study to show how important adherence is, but it’s a timely reminder given the misinformation about statins that may stop some people from taking them as prescribed,’ added Professor Samani.