Heart and stroke risk: a catalyst for conversation

14 February 2014

NPS MedicineWise is reminding health professionals that while various media reports have recently linked statins to a variety of adverse events and questioned their efficacy, these drugs remain one of the most effective strategies for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

The latest edition of Medicinewise News — Heart and stroke risk: a catalyst for conversation has been distributed this month to 65,000 doctors, pharmacists and other health professionals around Australia.

It examines the latest evidence about determining absolute CVD risk, and treatment options including statins.

Clinical adviser at NPS MedicineWise, Dr Andrew Boyden, says that CVD is largely preventable but is still the most common cause of death in Australia.

“Statins are the most effective lipid-modifying drugs, but the benefit of a statin is greatest for those at greatest absolute risk of a cardiovascular event, including those with established CVD,” he says.

“It’s important that statins are used in the people for whom the benefits are most likely to outweigh the potential harms. For most people at high risk of heart attack or stroke, the benefits of lowering cardiovascular disease risk with a statin generally outweigh the risk of possible adverse effects.”

Guidelines recommend that absolute CVD assessment should provide the basis of CVD risk assessment and treatment. The latest edition of Medicinewise News provides a reminder for health professionals on how to determine absolute CVD risk (including who needs assessing and how). It includes a step by step guide to drug and non-drug treatment, and key points about the importance of managing lifestyle factors in all patients.

The mailout to health professionals also includes a copy of the Statins – Frequently Asked Questions fact sheet for patients.

“NPS MedicineWise is urging health professionals to ensure they are up to date with the latest evidence and guidelines and work in partnership with their patients to manage their risk of CVD,” says Dr Boyden.

To read Medicinewise News — Heart and stroke risk: a catalyst for conversation online, or to print additional copies of the Statins – Frequently Asked Questions fact sheet for patients, go to www.nps.org.au/medicinewise-news-heart-and-stroke


Independent, evidence-based and not-for-profit, NPS MedicineWise enables better decisions about medicines and medical tests. We are funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.

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