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A New Plan to Restrict Cardiovascular Diseases in Scotland

Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) has published a set of guidelines that are aimed at averting 7,200 deaths and 27,000 cardiovascular complaints// like heart attacks and strokes in the next five years.

The plan aims to provide preventive treatment to about 500,000 people considered to be at risk.

The plan recommends periodical risk assessments for all over-40s especially those most at risk and also aims to provide lifestyle advice.

As per the guidelines, it is expected that 50% of men in Scotland and 20% of women over the age of 40 could be prescribed statins. Statins are medicines used to lower cholesterol levels and are often prescribed to people deemed to be at risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Experts have expressed anxiety about such "mass medication", more so because statins cause side effects like headaches, abdominal pain and, very rarely, severe muscle inflammation.

The guidelines are expected to cost NHS £78 million a year as they also include treatment of people already affected by CVD.

Doctors and charities welcomed the guidelines except a few who are against usage of statins for prevention.

Dr Mike Knapton, from the British Heart Foundation said, "I, like a lot of others, am concerned about medicating huge numbers of people."

"While I am convinced that the evidence is there that statins work and are safe, I am also convinced that prevention is better than anything else. That means making sure people eat healthily, stop smoking, lose weight and reduce their risk of heart disease in those ways."

Professor Tom Sanders, nutrition director for charity Heart UK, said," Statins are not a substitute for a healthy lifestyle. They are useful in people at high risk, but as a population you could reduce the risk by up to 80 per cent with a life-long better diet, more exercise and stopping smoking. Statins should really be a last resort." <
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