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UK National Health Service encourages further use of statins

New guidelines for general practitioners who prescribe cholesterol-lowering statin drugs have been issued by Britain's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. These new guidelines will suggest that as many as 1.5 million more people in the UK should be prescribed statins, an expansion that could save thousands of lives per year.

General practitioners will review the records of their patients who are at the greatest risk of cardiovascular disease. These patients may receive the greatest benefits from treatment including statin drugs. The patients who will be helped by statins usually satisfy a few criteria. They are usually between the age of 40 and 75, they may smoke, and suffer from high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Cardiovascular disease is one of the most common killers worldwide. Statin drugs work to lower cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke among those who suffer from cardiovascular disease.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence claim that their new guidelines will offer a standardized method of identifying at-risk patients. Patients who are identified as having a 20 percent or greater chance of developing cardiovascular disease will be prescribed statin drugs.

Patients who are identified as at-risk will also be given encouragement to start a physical fitness regimen and eat in a more health-conscious manner, says Dr. Tom Marshall, a public health specialist.

Some in the medical community disagree with the new recommendations. Alistair Hall, a heart specialist and professor of cardiology at Leeds General infirmary, says that statins should be used in addition to, rather instead of, physical activity and changes in diet.

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