Question mark over statins for low-risk patients

GP academic Associate Professor Jane Smith, from the Faculty of Health Science and Medicine at Bond University, Queensland, says the number of Australians diagnosed with high cholesterol doubled between 2004 and 2009.

This translated to 27% of adult general practice patients being treated for high cholesterol, and three-quarters of these patients were taking a statin.

“Patients and health providers alike tend to focus on cholesterol, perhaps because it is an easy target to test and treat,” Professor Smith wrote in Australian Prescriber.

“A possible consequence of this is… there are three individual statins in the top 10 of all prescribed drugs.”

“It is likely that we are over-prescribing statins to low-risk patients.”

Professor Smith said statin use was known to reduce risk in patients with ischaemic cardiovascular disease (CVD), or those at “high risk of