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More Urged to Take Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs in U.K.

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Feb. 12 (Bloomberg) -- People with a one in 10 chance of heart or circulatory diseases in the next decade should take cholesterol-lowering drugs and change their diet and alcohol intake, exercise more and stop smoking, new U.K. guidelines say.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommended that doctors consider more people to be at risk of heart disease, stroke or peripheral artery disease, which together cause one-third of deaths in the U.K. The agency, which advises the state-run National Health Service on cost-effective treatments, said in 2008 that people with a 20 percent chance of developing the conditions should take preventive measures.

The updated guidelines potentially expand the size of the market for “high-intensity” cholesterol-lowering drugs, which are known as statins and include Pfizer Inc.’s Lipitor and AstraZeneca Plc’s Crestor. The guidelines were updated in part because of the greater availability of cheaper, generic statins, NICE said. As many as 7 million Britons take statins at a cost of about 450 million pounds ($740 million) a year, NICE said.

“The risk is measurable and we can substantially reduce someone’s chance of a heart attack, angina, stroke and the other symptoms of cardiovascular disease by tackling the risk factors,” Mark Baker, director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE, said today in a statement.

Heart and circulatory diseases are the leading cause of death in England and Wales and killed about 180,000 people in 2010, NICE said. About 80,000 of those deaths were due to coronary heart disease and 49,000 from strokes, the agency said.

New U.S. guidelines published by the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association on Nov. 12 recommended moderate or high-intensity statin therapy for four groups of people, including those ages 40 to 75 years old who have a 10-year cardiovascular disease risk of 7.5 percent or higher.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Gerlin in London at agerlin@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at pserafino@bloomberg.net

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