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Aspirin best policy to reduce CHD risk

Aspirin is the most cost effective way to prevent heart disease and should be given to most men and women over the age of 55.

A study in last week's BMJ concluded aspirin and blood pressure-lowering drugs could prevent heart disease at a fraction of the cost of statins and clopidogrel and cast doubt on current policy.

Author Dr Tom Marshall, clinical lecturer at the department of public health and epidemiology at the University of Birmingham, suggested rather than offering statins to a few high-risk patients, a more

efficient prevention strategy would be to offer aspirin to most men over 55 and most women over 65.

Dr Marshall found that the cost per coronary event prevented in a patient at 10 per cent risk over five years was £3,500 for aspirin, £12,500 for initial hypertensives, £60,000 for clopidogrel and £61,400 for simvastatin.

Meanwhile a US-Government funded study of 16,000 patients has found lipid-lowering drugs are as effective at preventing deaths among people with CHD in normal clinical settings as in highly controlled randomised trials.

Researchers found only 18 per cent of patients prescribed lipid-lowering medication died, against 51 per cent who were not taking it. Patients also survived 15 months longer on average.

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