High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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It is estimated more than two in five people in England have high cholesterol, which puts them at risk for a variety of different life-threatening heart conditions. “Bad cholesterol” at high levels, when detected in individuals under the age of 45, can significantly increase their risk of a heart attack or stroke by the age of 75. GPs currently prescribe cholesterol-lowering statins to middle-aged individuals with higher than average levels of LDL. However, a new ‘game-changing’ drug could save up to 30,000 lives within the next decade.
The NHS is preparing to launch the treatment for people with high cholesterol who have suffered a heart attack or stroke.
Inclisiran is an investigational treatment taken by injection biannually to remove harmful cholesterol from the blood.
The small interfering RNA (siRNA) will be administered as a subcutaneous injection for lowering LDL cholesterol levels in patients with hypercholesterolemia or mixed dyslipidaemia, according to the drugmaker Novartis.
It is hoped the drug could help prevent 55,000 heart attacks and strokes, and help save tens of thousands of people from an early death.
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The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), said that while there is not yet evidence on the drug’s cardiovascular outcomes, it is considered cost-effective in people who have previously had cardiovascular effects.
The health watchdog also advocated that the drug proved efficient in treating individuals who were unresponsive to other treatments.
NICE deputy chief executive and director of the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, said: “Inclisiran represents a potential game-changer in preventing thousands of people from dying prematurely from heart attacks and strokes.
“We’re therefore pleased to be able to recommend it as a cost-effective option on the NHS supported by the groundbreaking deal between NHS England and NHS Improvement and Novartis.
“The deal could see as many as 300,000 people with high cholesterol or mixed dyslipidaemia who have already had a previous cardiovascular event receive the drug over the next three years.
NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard added: “The NHS is committed to using cutting-edge treatments to save and improve patients’ lives.
“Heart disease is still one of the major killer conditions so it is fantastic that we now have such an effective and convenient treatment for those living with dangerously high cholesterol levels.
“This world-leading deal for the rollout of inclisiran will save lives and enable hundreds of thousands of people to benefit from this revolutionary treatment, while also being fair to taxpayers.”
The Health body said the drug will be rolled out at unprecedented scale, since it was able to acquire the drug at a cost-effective price.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance which travels in the bloodstream, and often leaves deposits in the arteries.
Unfortunately, the signs that your cholesterol levels are too high only start to appear when serious complications are already at play.
As fatty deposits accumulate in the arteries and cause blockages, individuals may start to experience shortness of pain, chest pains or angina.
Jules Payne, chief executive of cholesterol charity Heart UK, said: “High cholesterol is very common and a major cause of cardiovascular disease, but the lack of symptoms means the first sign of the problem is often a heart attack.
“Health UK aims to save lives and keep families together, and we welcome this new innovative medicine as an additional tool in the armour against cardiovascular disease.
“For most people, the first step towards lowering high cholesterol levels is to reduce intake of saturated fats.
“Eating more fibre and vegetables could also help manage cholesterol levels.”
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