NHS: Statins save 7,000 lives a year in the UK

A 2012 Oxford University study, published in The Lancet medical journal, showed that even very low-risk patients benefited from taking cholesterol-lowering statins.

Rory Collins, professor of medicine at Oxford University, worked on the research and said the number of people who could begin taking statins as a result of the new Nice guidance "would be in the the order" of around five million.

He added: "The evidence is very strong that the treatment is cost-effective at these lower levels. Doctors are now in a position to offer statins on this basis."

He said it was up to individual patients to decide whether they wanted to take statins, based on their risk assessment, but Nice's strategy would "reduce the burden on the health service".

The NHS estimates that statins save 7,000 lives a year in the UK.

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Millions more 'to be prescribed statins to fight heart disease'

Millions more people in the UK could be prescribed cholesterol-lowering statins in a bid to prevent more cases of heart disease, heart attacks and strokes, following draft guidance.