Aug 23, 2022 - Health

Task force reaffirms guidance for statin use

Crestor is a statin. Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force reaffirmed guidance that doctors prescribe statins to prevent cardiovascular events like heart attacks and stroke.

Why it matters: The new guidelines, published Tuesday in JAMA, reinforce a task force recommendation from 2016.

  • They come after the expert panel commissioned a review of additional evidence on the benefits of statins in preventing events like a first heart attack versus the risks posed by heart disease.
  • The task force's recommendations influence how primary and preventive care is delivered, along with which services are covered by insurance.

What they're saying: Doctors should continue prescribing a statin to adults ages 40- to 75-years-old who have at least one cardiovascular risk factor such as diabetes, hypertension or smoking, as well as an estimated 10-year cardiovascular disease risk of 10% or greater.

  • Doctors may selectively prescribe statins to adults ages 40 to 75 years who have at least one cardiovascular risk factor but who have an estimated 10-year CVD risk of 7.5% to less than 10%.
  • People who are older than 75 years old are not included in the task force's recommendation, due to a lack of sufficient evidence.

The big picture: This recommendation comes just more than a month after new risk thresholds dramatically reduced eligibility for statin use in low-risk countries, Medscape reported.

Yes, but: Some clinicians believe the U.S. recommendations aren't broad enough to cover everyone who could benefit from taking the medication.

  • They argue that the 10-year guidelines that the task force recommends using will actually keep some people who might benefit from receiving the prescription.
  • "Waiting for a person to reach an age when their 10-year predicted (cardiovascular disease) risk exceeds a certain arbitrary threshold before recommending a statin allows atherosclerosis to proceed unchecked for decades," University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center researchers Ann Marie Navar and Eric Peterson wrote in a JAMA editorial.
  • The recommendations, Navar and Peterson write, are based on clinical consensus instead of the clinical trial results reviewed by the task force.
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