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'Statins could cut death risk in heart failure patients by 40%'

All patients with chronic heart failure should be given statins after results from the largest-ever review of statin effectiveness in heart failure patients showed the drugs could cut the risk of death by more than 40 per cent.

GP experts and researchers said the results would have 'major implications' for heart failure management, and giving patients statins could potentially save a quarter of a million lives a year in the UK.

Study lead Professor Stefan Anker, senior research fellow at the National Heart and Lung Institute in London, analysed statin use and death rates in 2,068 patients with heart failure.

Some 49 per cent of the 1,202 patients with ischaemic heart disease were taking statins compared with only 14 per cent of the 866 patients with non-ischaemic heart disease.

The results, presented at the American Heart Association annual meeting in Chicago last month, showed patients on statins were 40 per cent less likely to die compared with patients not taking the drugs.

The Department of Health has flagged up heart failure as a priority in its three-year Priorities and Planning Framework and GPs will be expected to identify and treat heart failure patients under NICE guidance due next August.

Professor Anker, also professor of cardiology at Humboldt University in Berlin, said: 'It is my opinion that all heart failure patients would benefit from statins, including patients who also have non-ischaemic heart disease. Today nobody doubts statins will also work in patients with coronary artery disease and heart failure.'

Dr Richard Lehman, a member of the British Society for Heart Failure and a GP in Banbury, Oxfordshire, said: 'If these findings are confirmed, everyone with heart failure should be on a statin. We'll almost certainly be pushing for that in the future.'

Dr Ahmet Fuat, a GP in Darlington, Durham and a heart failure GP specialist at the Darlington Memorial Hospital said: 'If the results are borne out, we need to be using statins in these patients earlier.'

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