Aspirin and cheap blood pressure tablets are the most cost-effective treatments to prevent heart disease, one of the world’s biggest killers, a study shows.
Aspirin and cheap blood pressure tablets are the most cost-effective treatments to prevent heart disease, one of the world’s biggest killers, a study shows.The analysis found that low-dose aspirin was as effective and much cheaper than statins, which lower cholesterol, or the blood thinning drug clopidogrel, which is sold under the brand name Plavix by the French drug firm Sanofi-Synthelabo.”This analysis confirms the poor cost effectiveness of statins and clopidogrel compared with aspirin and antihypertensive treatments,” Tom Marshall, of the University of Birmingham in England, said in the British Medical Journal.All the treatments are effective in preventing coronary heart disease, which kills millions of people worldwide each year, but the prices vary greatly. He estimated the cost of the different treatments for individuals and in combination for patients with various levels of risk for developing heart disease. He calculated it would cost about 3,500 pounds a year to prevent a heart problem in a patient with a 10 per cent risk of the disease over five years with aspirin, compared to 18,300 pounds for drugs that lower blood pressure, 60,000 pounds for clopidogrel and 61,400 for simvastatin, the cholesterol fighter marketed by Merck under the name Zocor. No one from the manufacturers was immediately available to comment on the analysis. He compared the high-priced interventions to giving a patient a Rolls Royce when they would get a similar benefit from using a bicycle. All the emphasis and advertising is on the latest drugs and the cheaper, older treatments are forgotten, he said. “There should be greater emphasis on simple treatments,” He said.”Aspirin, low-cost blood-pressure lowering treatment should be given much greater prominence and less attention should be given to high-cost interventions.”The risk of developing heart disease increases with age. Smoking, a sedentary lifestyle and raised cholesterol and blood pressure levels are factors which increase the risk of developing heart disease.(Source: ABC Online News, British Medical Journal November 2003)