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Doctors not prescribing statins might endanger lives: Britain's senior doctor

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A serious emphasis in guarding heart health has come forward, besides didn't The Little Prince book once say that it is only with the heart that one can see rightly?

Leading medical academics in the United Kingdom blasted a buzz on the dangers of using statins, which are powerful drugs that reduce bad LDL cholesterol in the blood. The bad LDL cholesterol or high cholesterol contributes to cardiovascular diseases (CVD) such as heart disease and stroke. CVD lead to one in every three deaths in the UK, based on date from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Statins got its first license in the 80's, and now they come cheap. In England alone, seven million people, who are at least 20 percent at risk of heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years, are on statins.

Recent claims point to statins causing autism among users, though. Oxford University professor Rory Collins believes otherwise. He said these unjustified talks create a situation similar to the MMR vaccine controversy. He added that such false and misleading claims on the dangers of statins could even more lead to deaths.

Collins, among UK's leading experts on the drug, specifically mentioned the British Medical Journal for publishing two articles by critics of the drug. The authors of the articles are John Abramson and Aseem Malhotra. Abramson is a clinician at the Harvard Medical School, while Malhotra is a UK cardiologist. Both of them claimed statins didn't lower the mortality rate, with side effects doing more harm than good. One of them even accused Collins of "fear-mongering."

"It is a serious disservice to British and international medicine. I would think the papers on statins are far worse in terms of the harm they have done," said Collins.

Meanwhile, the drug should be offered to every man and woman whose age is over 50 and 60, respectively, according to other doctors who also support the use of statins.

Another study recently conducted by researchers at Imperial College show that statins have particularly no side effects. It also says that users experience fewer unfavorable symptoms than when taking placebo.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended in draft guidance last month that doctors should be prescribed to people with only 10 percent risk, as opposed to its old guidance of prescribing the drug for people with 20 percent risk. It based its new guidance on a major data analysis from 27 drug company trials. The data analysis came out in the Lancet in October last year. This new draft came after a major study supervised by the team of Collins in 2012 at Oxford.

NICE also identifies the factors for CVD-related cases include age, sex, family history and ethnicity. To manage the disease, it advises to stop smoking, minimize alcohol in-take, take exercise and eat a healthy diet. Upon addressing these factors, it also suggests that high-intensity statin therapy should be provided.

Though NICE endorsed the study by Collin's team, critics still abound on the use of statins.

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