KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Study Finds New Heart Guidelines Would Put About Half Of Older Adults On Statins

The New England Journal of Medicine study is the first independent assessment of guidelines released last fall on the use of the heart medications, and it shows 56 million people between the ages of 40 and 75 are eligible for the treatment.

Reuters: New Heart Guidelines May Put 12.8 Million More Americans On Statins 
New guidelines on heart health that sparked fierce debate among U.S. cardiologists last fall could lead 12.8 million more Americans to take cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday. The new estimate would mean 56 million people, or nearly half of the U.S. population between the ages of 40 to 75, could be eligible for taking a statin to prevent heart disease (Steenhuysen, 3/19).

The Associated Press: Half Of US Adults 40 To 75 Eligible For Statins
It's the first independent look at the impact of the guidelines issued in November and shows how dramatically they shift more people toward treatment. Supporters say they reveal the true scope of heart risks in America. Critics have said the guidelines overreach by suggesting medications such as Zocor and Lipitor for such a broad swath of the population (Marchione, 3/19).

USA Today: Millions More Would Get Statins Based On New Guidelines
A study published Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine found that the guidelines, released in November, would add nearly 13 million people to those already receiving or eligible for statins. Among people aged 60-75, 87% of men (up from 30% now) and 53% of women (up from 21% now) should take statins if they aren't already, the analysis found. Basically, the guidelines imply "if you're a 60- to 75-year-old man and not on a statin, you should go get one, and every other woman of this age should get one," said Michael Pencina, director of biostatistics at the Duke Clinical Research Institute in Durham, N.C. Pencina led the new study, which examined data from more than 3,700 people nationwide (Weintraub, 3/20).

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