A new paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on Tuesday has described the new guidelines for prescribing statins (a class of cholesterol-lowering medications) as highly efficient and cost-effective. The said paper combines results of two pieces of research.
Both studies analyzed the 2013 guidelines that suggested that all individuals aged between 40 and 75 years with 7.5% or higher risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack over the coming ten years should be prescribed statins.
Dr. Udo Hoffman, the lead author of one of the two studies, said that he and his team decided to see the effects of these new statin guidelines as they felt that it would be a good idea to provide common people with some information about how well the new recommendations work compared to the previous ones. Dr. Hoffman is associated with the Harvard Medical School, Boston, and the Massachusetts General Hospital.
Other than asking physicians to prescribe statins to individuals with a 7.5% risk of strokes or heart attacks, the new guidelines set by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology also recommended statins for individuals suffering from cardiovascular disease, for adults with high LDL (low density lipoprotein) or bad cholesterol levels, and for diabetic patients aged between 40 and 75 years.
Dr. Hoffman and his team concluded that these new guidelines will make doctors prescribe statins to 12.8 million more Americans. Some of the most commonly used statins are: Lipitor (atorvastatin), Zocor (simvastatin) and Crestor (rosuvastatin).
During the study, researchers checked ten years of data obtained from around 2,500 individuals, who were not undergoing any statin-based treatment. The researchers found that the new guidelines would make 39% of them eligible for statin therapy, while the previous guidelines would make the therapy suitable for just 14%.
During the study, 74 patients i.e. 3% of all studied individuals suffered from strokes or heart attacks. After checking the cases more closely, the researchers found that the frequency of such cardiovascular events was higher in patients who were eligible for undergoing statin therapy under the new guidelines.
The rate of strokes and heart attacks was 6.3% among people who would have been eligible for statin therapy. On the other hand, the share was just 1% among patients who wouldn’t have been candidates for the therapy under the guidelines issued in 2013.