07 November 2014

NICE refutes arguments against wider statin use

Responding to an open letter sent to the House of Commons Health Select Committee, NICE chair Professor David Haslam has said statins are safe and effective.

In a response to the Health Select Committee, Professor Haslam, a GP for more than 30 years, said good evidence supported their wider use in preventing heart attacks and stroke:

“For almost thirty years, statins have been widely used in developed health care systems to protect people from cardiovascular disease (coronary heart disease and stroke). Their use in people who have established cardiovascular disease is not controversial. The use of statins to prevent the development of cardiovascular disease in well people is a more recent role but is equally widespread and robustly evidence-based.

“The evidence is clear, in our view, that statins have a material impact on reducing cardiovascular risk, where that risk is greater than 10% over a ten year period. We are not advocating that statins are the only appropriate intervention. Our clinical guideline sets out to identify people at increased risk of CVD and argues for changes to diet and exercise where that can be achieved.

“It is only if lifestyle changes on their own are not sufficient, and that other risk factors such as hypertension are also managed, that people who are at risk should be offered the opportunity to use a statin, if they want to. They don’t have to and their decision should be informed by an understanding of the risks. If they find after starting treatment that the side effects outweigh their understanding of their risk, they should be advised to stop.”

The evidence is clear, in our view, that statins have a material impact on reducing cardiovascular risk

Professor David Haslam, chair of NICE