Global adoption of statins

More than half of UK adults over the age of 45 have high cholesterol levels, the major modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which kills an estimated 7,000 European and US adults each day. Over the past 20 years, beginning with the landmark WOSCOPS (West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study) trial, University of Glasgow researchers have led the landmark clinical trials which established the benefits of statins and drove their global adoption as the first-line medical option for prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Statins are now one of the most prescribed classes of medication in the world.

These trials dominate the current, high-profile international clinical guidelines on lipid-lowering, demonstrating the considerable influence Glasgow’s research continues to exert on current clinical practice and public health. The validity and profile of the seminal University of Glasgow studies in driving best practice for cardiovascular disease patient care remain undiminished. These trials are regularly included in meta-analyses which evaluate primary clinical research and are recognised as the gold standard for providing an evidence base for changing clinical practice, as in a 2013 review utilising the Glasgow studies which concluded that ‘previous recommendations urging caution in the use of statins in people at low risk of cardiovascular events [was] no longer tenable’.

The research findings and subsequent guidelines have driven the global uptake of statins and underpinned cardiovascular disease risk assessment and prevention strategies now implemented worldwide. Statin use has transformed patient care, provided a cost-effective prevention strategy for healthcare providers and made major contributions to falling mortality rates in cardiovascular disease across Europe and the US. The Glasgow-led WOSCOPS follow-up study found that from 1999 to 2009 mortality rates from cardiovascular disease fell by 33% in patients taking statins in the US and Europe.

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