This study examined the potential effectiveness and efficiency of different guidelines for statin treatment to reduce deaths from coronary heart disease in the Canadian population.
Modelled outcomes of screening and treatment recommendations of six national or international guidelines—from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, joint British societies, and European societies—were applied to 6,760 men and women aged 20-74 years from the Canadian Heart Health Survey (weighted sample of 12,300,000 people) that included physical measurements including a lipid profile. The number of people recommended for treatment with statins, the potential number of deaths from coronary heart disease avoided, and the number needed to treat to avoid one coronary heart disease death with five years of statin treatment if the recommendations from each guideline were fully implemented were examined.
When applied to the Canadian population, the Australian and British guidelines were the most effective, potentially avoiding the most deaths over five years (>15,000 deaths). The New Zealand guidelines was the most efficient, potentially avoiding almost as many deaths (14,700) while recommending treatment to the fewest number of people (12.9% of people vs. 17.3% with the Australian and British guidelines). If their "optional" recommendations are included, the U.S. guidelines recommended treating about twice as many people as the New Zealand guidelines (24.5% of the population, an additional 1.4 million people) with almost no increase in the number of deaths avoided.
By focusing recommendations on people with the highest risk of coronary heart disease, the Canadian, U.S., and European societies guidelines could improve either their effectiveness (in terms of hundreds of avoided deaths) or efficiency (in terms of thousands of fewer people recommended treatment) in the Canadian population.