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As a result of recent research carried out at Oxford University, it has been suggested that the NHS treatment guidelines should change and that as part of the policy, 20 million people should be prescribed statins such as Crestor. Currently those with a one in five chance of heart attack within the next decade are prescribed cholesterol treatment in the form of statins. This does however include 50% of men over the age of 50 and one third of women of this age. It is now suggested that this pool should expand.

The findings, which have spurred on the idea or rather reignited previous arguments in favour of the use of statins for the over 50s, include the discovery that the risk of heart attack and stroke is decreased by one fifth in those who do not have heart disease and who take statins on a precautionary basis. Expanding the number of people who take the cholesterol treatment is estimated to cost the NHS £240 million.

This might seem like an expensive plan however the money that will be saved can be significant. Savings will include the elimination of screening tests in order to pick out those at risk and in need of treatment. In addition, expensive operations will be reduced and there will be fewer hospital admissions and less spent on medication for cardiovascular illnesses. Since half of all cardiovascular events occur in those who have no previous issues and who were not deemed at risk, it must be a good idea to start preventing such heart related illnesses now.

The study revealed that those with the lowest risk (and taking statins) reduced their risk of death by heart attack or stroke by 15%.

The debate is on-going about whether or not taking statins puts our health at risk but there is no evidence out there to suggest that the risks in any way outweigh the benefits. It is unlikely that this suggestion will be taken up by the NHS in the short term but we believe that there is a strong likelihood that we will be moving in this direction.

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