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Heart disease risk screening plan

Reports suggest that millions of people at risk of developing heart disease are to be screened and offered cholesterol-busting drugs.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) will announce recommendations this week to screen people with a view to offering them statins, a newspaper claims.

Adults aged 40, 50 and 60 years will be assessed and those considered to have a 20% risk of developing heart disease over the next decade will be offered the drugs, the report said.

A NICE spokeswoman confirmed that the organisation is due to publish draft guidelines on modifying blood lipids within the next few days.

Cholesterol is a type of lipid which, if present in high concentrations, can cause deposits to build up on artery walls, increasing the risk of heart disease.

A document published two years ago highlighted the fact that cholesterol can be cut by exercise and dietary changes as well as by drugs.

It emphasises that drugs have an important role to play in treating the disease, and illustrates how existing government targets recommend giving statins to people with more than a 30% chance of developing coronary heart disease over 10 years.

But the document says that there are variations in how doctors go about preventing cardiovascular disease.

While statins are already widely used, The Sunday Times claims that NICE will now recommend a mass screening programme which will potentially bring in millions of other people who are not currently eligible for the drugs.

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

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