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Should Clinicians Change How They Talk Statins With Patients? New Study Says Yes

New research suggests that more patients than suspected could benefit, or at least perceive benefit, from primary-prevention therapy.

The first part of the study sought to calculate "mean lifespan gain" from a CV-mortality–reducing intervention, in this case a statin, using data from UK records. It showed that only an "unpredictable minority" had significant mortality reductions. For example, the average lifespan gain was 7.4 months postintervention for 50-year-old male nonsmokers with an average CV risk. But delving into individual data showed that 93% had no gain at all―whereas 7% had a 99-month mean gain. In other words, most had little to no gain while a few of these men, with identical characteristics, had large gains.

Interestingly, in a survey of nearly 400 participants, 33% said they"d prefer a 2% chance of being part of a "large gains" minority instead of accepting a certainty of smaller gains.

Principal investigator Dr Darrel P Francis (National Heart and Lung Institute, London, UK) told heartwire from Medscape that many people want to gamble for the possibility of a bigger payoff. "Many patients want to know, "What"s the size of the jackpot?" So when talking to patients, maybe we really should use the language of lotteries," he said.