Improving adherance to statins would prevent more cardiovascular deaths than giving the drugs to a greater number of patients with lower CVD risk, according to UK researchers.
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Around twice as many deaths from CVD would be prevented by raising adherence to statin therapy as from giving the drugs more widely, the study suggests. The researchers estimated that the improvement would result from 50 per cent to 75 per cent increase in therapy adherence.
The effect of raising adherence by 50 per cent was compared with the effect of lowering the risk threshold for prescribing statins - from a 20 per cent chance of developing incident cardiovascular disease over 10 years to a 15.5 per cent chance.
Studies of adherence to statin medication in clinical trials and in normal practice, involving more than 5,000 patients, were reviewed in the study.
The authors say that it is not so surprising that concentrating on people at greatest risk, rather than including those at lower risk of cardiovascular disease, should yield more impressive results.
“However, the magnitude of the difference is notable,” they said. “And it serves to emphasise the need to find more effective means of increasing adherence - especially over the long term.”
Failing to consider adherence levels typically achieved in practice can result in overestimating potential benefits from chemopreventive strategies, said the researchers writing in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
It could inadvertently lead to policies for the use of statins that fail to make the most from their use, they added.