London: Everyone over the age of 50 should be given statins because the cholesterol-lowering drugs can reduce the chances of a heart attack or stroke even in healthy people, say experts.A research by scientists at Oxford University has found the risk of a heart attack or stroke is cut by a fifth in those who have no sign of heart disease.Treatment guidelines should be reviewed in light of the findings, the experts said, and the NHS should impose a blanket policy of prescribing up to 20 million people statins at a potential cost of 240million pounds a year, the Telegraph reported.Currently, the only people considered at high risk, those with a one-in-five chance of having a heart attack in the next 10 years, are given the drugs.Half of men aged 50 or over and almost a third of women qualify for statin treatment. About five million people are thought to take them.National guidelines should be amended to lower the threshold for treatment to those with a one-in-10 risk over a decade, the experts said.As the majority of people in their fifties would qualify for statins under this criteria, it would be cheaper and easier to implement a blanket policy to save money on screening tests — which cost up to 700 pounds per patient — to identify them, it was argued.The cost of statins, 1 pound for a month’s course, would also be offset by the savings they would bring to the NHS in preventing costly operations, medical procedures, rehabilitation and by freeing ward space and places in care homes. A total of 1.3 billion pounds is spent annually on cardiovascular drugs alone.
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