The consumption of statins has risen dramatically in recent years, the KCE said in a report on Tuesday, in which it highlighted the need to inform the public on the importance of healthier lifestyles and correctly following treatments to reduce high cholesterol levels in the blood and the risk of deadly cardiovascular incidents such as strokes and heart attacks. This is not the first time the Belgian Health Care Knowledge Centre (KCE) has focused on statins, which are used to reduce high levels of cholesterol in the blood, but the data on the problem has evolved, it notes in the document, titled: ‘Statins for the primary prevention of cardiovascular events’.
With the marketing of generic medication rendering treatment much more affordable, statins are prescribed for 1,500,000 Belgians over the age of 40, which amounts to one in every four 40+ Belgians, the KCE recalls. In the year 2002, only 400,000 had been on statins, the KCE adds.
Over 80% of patients to whom statins are prescribed have not yet suffered any cardiovascular incidents and receive this treatment as a “primary prevention” against such problems.
Moreover, it appears that in a significant fraction of the 1.5 million Belgians treated with statins each year, this risk could be avoided without medication, simply by encouraging the patient to improve his or her lifestyle, for example by cutting smoking, limiting alcohol intake, exercising and following a more balanced diet.
With the aim of providing “clear objective information” on statins, the KCE plans to come up with a decision-supporting tool that will help patients and doctors evaluate together the relevance of prescriptions featuring such anti-cholesterol medication.