More People Could Benefit From Statins
Study Shows Lipid-Lowering Drugs Cost-effective for Most Patients
Generic Choices Growing continued...
Younger, high-risk patients were found to benefit the most from lifetime statin use, in terms of life expectancy. But even young people at moderate risk benefited, researchers concluded.
The estimated cost per year of life gained ranged from $858 to $4,700 for people with a 5%, five-year risk of having a major cardiovascular event (between ages of 35 to 85) at the start of treatment.
In their latest report, published online Friday in the journal BMJ, the study group concluded that over the course of a lifetime, treatment with generic statins actually saves health care dollars or is cost-effective for many more people than previously thought.
Cardiologist Sidney C. Smith Jr., MD, tells WebMD that the study makes an important contribution to the literature.
Smith, who is a former president of the American Heart Association (AHA), leads an AHA/American College of Cardiology task force examining practice guidelines. He is a professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina.
"The first standard of treatment is always determining if there is a benefit," he says. "Once a benefit is shown, the question becomes, 'How much does it cost to recognize this benefit?' These investigators show that treatment with a generic statin is a very cost-effective way to lower risk, even among patients who are at the lower end of moderate risk."
But even with the growing array of effective preventive therapies, Smith emphasizes that lifestyle remains a big part of the prevention strategy.
"Lifestyle changes must be the foundation for everything we do," he says. "That means getting people to stop smoking, eat right, and exercise. We have to make sure that patients know that lifestyle is as important as it ever was."
Not everyone may be able to take statins due to other medical conditions such as liver disease. Side effects may include abnormal liver function, muscle aches, muscle damage, allergic reaction, dizziness, abdominal pain, or constipation.