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Reducing statins prescription threshold, an underlying cause for cot death, and employers failing chronically ill youth

A round-up of the health news headlines on Thursday 14 November 2013

The Telegraph’s leading health story today, is that NICE will review it’s guidelines on when statins should be prescribed ‘in light of research that has prompted a radical change in American guidance’.

Doctors in the US are now advised to prescribe the drug to patients they predict have a 7.5% chance of a heart attack in the next ten years – in the UK Statins are prescribed to those with a 20% likelihood.

Dr David Wald, a cardiologist at Queen Mary, University of London, said it would be ‘sensible’ to lower the threshold, which would be ‘heading towards the point where statins may eventually be offered to everyone once they reach a certain age of around 55’.

The BBC reports that the Royal National Institute of Blind People have called for ‘NHS England to hold an urgent inquiry’ in to the capacity of eyecare clinics in England as rising demand puts patients at risk of going blind.

A report published by the charity found that 94% - of 172 eye clinic staff surveyed - thought their department would be unable to cope with increasing demand, and 80% were already struggling

Lesley-Anne Alexander, the RNIB’s chief executive, said: ‘These statistics are shameful as nobody should lose their sight from a treatable condition simply because their eye clinic is too busy to provide care in a clinically appropriate timescale.’

The Daily Express reports on a study published in the journal Paediatrics identified that babies who died of cot death tended to have ‘brainstem differences not seen in infants who died of other causes’.

Researchers from the Boston Children’s Hospital examined 71 cases of cot death, which affects around 300 infants in the UK each year, and compared the cause of death with children who died in unsafe sleeping conditions, such as lying on their front, and those who died in safe conditions.

Lead author Dr Hannah Kinney said: ‘The abnormality prevents the brainstem from responding to the asphyxial challenge and waking… We have to find ways to test for this underlying vulnerability in living babies and then to treat it. Our team is focused now upon developing such a test and treatment.’

The Mirror has reported  a review by the Work Foundation, which found that recession job fears drove 70% of young people with chronic conditions to work while they were ill.

It also identified ‘negative’ attitudes from employers and schools that were driving ill, young people onto unemployment benefits or into poorly paid jobs, and that this group were almost twice as likely to be unemployed as their peer group.

Katie Summers, co-author of the report said: ‘We are calling on the Department for Education to provide improved education to young people about chronic conditions in order to reduce stigma.’

‘Healthcare professionals need to be incentivised to consider work as an outcome of successful treatment and employers should play a greater role in shaping the skills of young people.’

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