High cholesterol is undertreated in England

November 23, 2000

Lipid concentrations and the use of lipid lowering drugs: evidence from a national cross sectional survey

Treating dyslipidaemia in primary care

At least a quarter of English adults have cholesterol levels above the ideal, yet only one in 50 take cholesterol lowering drugs, finds a study in this week's BMJ.

National guidelines recommend that cholesterol lowering drugs should be used for people with a history of coronary heart disease, or those with the highest risk of developing coronary heart disease. Using data from over 13,500 English adults, researchers in London found that only 30% of people with a history of coronary heart disease were taking cholesterol lowering drugs, with only one in eight reaching the recommended cholesterol target. Among those high risk people identified, only 3% were taking cholesterol lowering drugs.

The authors estimate that if cholesterol lowering was achieved in the remaining 70% of untreated adults with a history of coronary heart disease, about 7,000 fatal or non-fatal heart attacks and about 2,500 fatal or non-fatal strokes would be avoided each year.

Fortunately, the use of cholesterol lowering drugs is rising, say the authors. They hope that the new NHS national service framework will reinforce guidelines on cholesterol management, so that the use of these drugs continues to grow and the huge benefits in terms of preventing cardiovascular events can be realised, they conclude.
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Contact:

Paola Primatesta, Royal Free and University College Medical School, London, UK
Email: paolap@public-health.ucl.ac.uk

BMJ

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