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Statin Drugs Save Money as Well as Lives, U.K. Study Shows

Treatment reduces heart-related hospital stays (July 10)

Statins not only help save lives but are a great value for the money, too, even in lower-risk patients, according to a new study conducted in the U.K.

The cholesterol-lowering drugs are widely prescribed to people who have had heart attacks or strokes. They can also help prevent these events from occurring in people who have not previously developed cardiovascular disease.

Some critics have urged caution in the use of statins in people who are otherwise healthy and have questioned whether it is worth the expense. However, a new study from the University of Glasgow has shown clear health and financial advantages.

The study, published in the European Heart Journal, used National Health Service (NHS) statistics to follow 6,595 men from the west of Scotland who were aged 45 to 64 years at the start of the study and had high levels of cholesterol but no history of a heart attack. Half were given pravastatin over 5 years, and all of the men were followed for at least 15 years. This is the first time that the cost-effectiveness of statins has been assessed in this way.

The results showed that for every 1,000 patients who received a 40-mg dose of pravastatin once a day for 5 years, the NHS saved £710,000, after taking into account the cost of the drug and safety monitoring.

There were also 163 fewer admissions, saving 1,836 days in a hospital, with fewer admissions for heart attacks, stroke, and coronary operations and a 43% reduction in heart failure admissions to hospitals.

According to senior author Professor Ian Ford, “the results add to support for a recent call for the expanded use of statins.”

Source: University of Glasgow; July 10, 2013.

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