Heart attacks could be reduced by rethinking the way we prescribe statins

Millions of people today take statins to help lower their cholesterol level. Currently statins are prescribed to patients based on their future risk of cardiovascular disease - mainly driven by age - which excludes many individuals who may benefit from them. A new study led by the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) in Montreal, with collaborators from the United-States, is changing the way we think about prescribing statins. The research team has developed a new approach to determine which individuals should receive these important medications. The findings, which are published online in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, could improve prevention of heart disease, especially in younger people.

"Our study is changing the way we think about prescribing statins; we should not only be considering who is at risk of heart disease but, more importantly, who would benefit from these medications," says study-lead author, Dr. George Thanassoulis, who is the director of Preventive and Genomic Cardiology at the MUHC and an associate professor in Medicine at McGill University. "For example, younger patients who have high cholesterol, are frequently considered too young to be at risk for heart attack in the short term, but our analysis shows that they would benefit from treatment, even in the short term, and therefore should be eligible for statin treatment."

The research team performed their modelling study using data from 2,134 participants from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey - a nationally-representative US cohort, between 2005 and 2010, representing 71.8 million Americans potentially eligible for statins. Two approaches for statin eligibility were compared: a ten-year risk based approach, currently in use, and an individualized benefit approach. The latter method of determining who should receive statins was found to produce greater eligibility.

"Using a benefit-based approach, we identified 9.5 million lower-risk Americans not currently eligible for statin treatment, who had the same or greater expected benefit from statins as higher-risk individuals," explains Dr. Thanassoulis. "These individuals were lower-risk because they were younger but they also had higher levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol which we have known to be an important cause of heart disease. Targeting statin treatment to this group would prevent an additional 266,000 heart attacks and strokes over 10 years,"

"This strategy will transform cardiovascular prevention for the better," adds study's co-author, Dr. Allan Sniderman, MUHC cardiologist and full professor in Medicine at McGill University. "For too many, the present approach starts too late; an earlier start will multiply the lives saved."

Dr. Thanassoulis and collaborators are now developing a Web interface to extend the use of this calculation model to physicians. Researchers hope this new way will help develop guideline recommendations that better identify individuals who meaningfully benefit from statin therapy.

This study was funded by the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Santé and by the Doggone Foundation. The paper was coauthored by George Thanassoulis and Allan D. Sniderman (Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre and McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada); Ken Williams (KenAnco Biostatistics and University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX); Kathleen Kimler Altobelli (KenAnco Biostatistics, San Antonio, TX), Michael J. Pencina (Duke Clinical Research Institute, Durham, NC), Christopher P. Cannon (Harvard Clinical Research Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA).

Most Popular Now

FDA approves drug to treat ALS

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Radicava (edaravone) to treat patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig's...

Read more

FDA approves first cancer treatment for any solid …

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today granted accelerated approval to a treatment for patients whose cancers have a specific genetic feature (biomarker). This is th...

Read more

Sanofi and Regeneron announce FDA Approval of Kevz…

Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. have announced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of Kevzara® (sarilumab) for the treatment of adult patients...

Read more

AstraZeneca marks a key milestone with the ‘toppin…

AstraZeneca marks a key milestone in its successful move to Cambridge, UK, with the 'topping out' of its new, state-of-the-art, strategic R&D centre and global corporate ...

Read more

FDA approves first treatment for a form of Batten …

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Brineura (cerliponase alfa) as a treatment for a specific form of Batten disease. Brineura is the first FDA-approved ...

Read more

Abbott announces CE Mark and first use of the worl…

Abbott (NYSE: ABT) today announced CE Mark and first use of the new Confirm RxTM Insertable Cardiac Monitor (ICM), the world's first smartphone compatible ICM that will h...

Read more

Imfinzi significantly reduces the risk of disease …

AstraZeneca and MedImmune, its global biologics research and development arm, today announced positive results for the Phase III PACIFIC trial, a randomised, double-blind...

Read more

Antibiotic doxycycline may offer hope for treatmen…

A study published in the journal Scientific Reports suggests that doxycycline, an antibiotic used for over half a century against bacterial infections, can be prescribed ...

Read more

Novartis exercises exclusive option agreement with…

Novartis announced today that it has notified Conatus Pharmaceuticals Inc., of its exercise of the option to an exclusive license for the global development and commercia...

Read more

England's Cancer Drugs Fund 'failed to deliver mea…

Analysis of the drugs that were approved for use by the NHS Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF) in England has shown that the fund was not good value for patients and society and may...

Read more

High levels of exercise linked to nine years of le…

Despite their best efforts, no scientist has ever come close to stopping humans from aging. Even anti-aging creams can't stop Old Father Time. But new research from Brigh...

Read more

Vitamin A deficiency is detrimental to blood stem …

Many specialized cells, such as in the skin, gut or blood, have a lifespan of only a few days. Therefore, steady replenishment of these cells is indispensable. They arise...

Read more

Pharmaceutical Companies

[ A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Z ]