Editorial: Over-the-counter statin treatment could prevent heart disease

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Making statin treatment available without a prescription could help the fight against heart disease, says Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, director of Mount Sinai Heart and director of the Zena and Michael A. Wiener Cardiovascular Institute at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

A nonprescription statin program could provide patients with a beneficial tool in cardiovascular risk prevention, said Fuster in the Sept. 1 edition of The American Journal of Cardiology. He believes educating the public and encouraging patient involvement in their healthcare is an effective means of improving disease prevention.

“Even though statins have been available for 20 years, and have proven to be safe and effective in lowering cholesterol, many patients throughout the world still do not get this treatment,” said Fuster. “We have made only limited progress tackling coronary heart disease, and we need additional approaches to prevent this epidemic from continuing.”

Taking statins can reduce LDL levels by as much as 24 percent, so when patients are introduced to cholesterol-lowering therapies, they become motivated to learn about other lifestyle modifications that can help keep lipid levels under control, such as exercise.

In his editorial, Fuster notes that any proposal for nonprescription statins is an opportunity to educate and empower the public on how to protect themselves from heart disease.