Most statins prescribed to the wrong patients
Statins are highly effective treatments for the prevention of heart disease. Guidelines recommend the use of statins in patients who are at high risk of developing heart disease.
- Patients who do not have heart disease, but are classified as ‘high-risk’ – patients who are older, smoke, have diabetes, higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels – should be recommended statins.
- Statins are not recommended for patients classified as low–risk – generally younger people who are in good health.
- However, it is not known to what extent GPs follow guidelines in routine clinical practice and what influences their prescribing decisions.
- This research analysed 365,718 patient records from 421 general practices in the UK focusing on patients who did not already have heart disease.
- The records showed that only 3 in 10 high -risk patients were started on statins. Most high -risk patients missed out on treatment despite the fact that the average patient would have consulted their GP eleven times over the two year study period.
- At the same time, 1 in 10 low -risk patients were started on treatment, meaning that many were over -treated.
- During this period, over 50,000 patients were started on statins, but only 21,000 (42%) could be thought of as high -risk.
- Patients aged over 65 years, those with diabetes, and those who consulted their GP more frequently were more likely to be started on statins