Statins Interesting to read on the front page of “The Times earlier this week that smokers, the overweight and elderly and other people at risk of heart attacks and strokes are to be offered Statins drugs on the NHS to help prevent so many deaths.

Statistics published by “The Times are:

Currently Statins are thought to prevent 7000 deaths a year in England & Wales. The new policy is expected to prevent an additional 10,000 deaths per year

NICE says that making Statins more widely available will cost between £55m and £82m per year, but when savings on treatment for future heart problems are taken into account, the final cost will be below £9m. (I presume this is £9m per year, it doesn’t actually say).

I wonder how many premature heart and circulatory disease deaths could actually be prevented by healthier lifestyle and diet rather than prescribing expensive drugs. Heart disease and strokes are two conditions where there is definitely a clear lifestyle (particularly smoking) and diet connection and to rely on drugs for prevention shows an utter failure by the Government to pursue the relatively cheap prevention policy of promoting a healthy lifestyle and diet and instead go for the expensive option of drugs prevention.

This announcement is going to be good news for many people, including some of us who may be at risk of heart disease and strokes, but it isn’t right that, in comparison, HER2 positive women, whose disease cannot be so obviously linked with diet lifestyle have to undergo such hassle and trauma to try to get Herceptin to prolong their lives and that NICE appears to ignore the costs of future treatment for women who’ve been denied Herceptin when making their decisions about cost/benefit.

But, according to the article, heart disease and strokes killed 238,000 people in 2002 and nearly a third of the deaths were classed as premature, affecting men and women under 75, so compared with 12,000 breast cancer deaths per year, it’s obviously a much bigger issue for the Government.

I wonder how many breast cancer deaths per year would have to occur before it got such focus from the NHS and NICE and I wonder why no concern seems to be shown for the number of premature deaths caused by breast cancer, in women and men much younger than 75. I’m sure many people with breast cancer would be glad to make it to 65 years old, let alone 75.