IT is the biggest single killer worldwide, with a quarter of UK deaths attributable to cardiovascular disease in its various forms, including heart attack and stroke. So the announcement of a deal between pharmaceutical giant Novartis to supply the NHS with a new drug that lowers cholesterol, yet only needs an injection every six months, made the front page of most national newspapers.

The medicine in question, inclisiran, has shown excellent results in clinical trials, with a reduction in bad cholesterol in as little as two weeks. Administered as an injection, it is given at the start of treatment, after three months, then every six monthly from then on.

With plans to treat 300,000 patients in England and Wales over the next three years, it is estimated that 55,000 cardiovascular events and 30,000 deaths will be prevented in the coming decade.

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Inclisiran will initially be offered to those with established cardiovascular disease, but will in time be extended to those whose cholesterol places them at increased risk. Current plans are for nurses to give inclisiran in GP surgeries, hence reducing inconvenience and increasing accessibility for patients.

Although both have the goal of reducing bad cholesterol, inclisiran works slightly differently from statins, which have been in use since the late 1980s.

Inclisiran may become mainstream therapy in a very short time scale. However, for the over 6.5 million persons in the UK on statins, I would advise against ditching these, at least in the short term.

Daily Echo:

As always, prevention is better than cure, and even if guidelines eventually decide that we should all be offered a cholesterol lowering medication, the basic principles of a healthy diet, maintaining a sensible weight, regular cardiovascular exercise, alcohol consumption within recommended limits, and not smoking will always be the best “non- treatment” way of trying to reduce our cardiovascular risk.

Many pharmacies now offer walk in blood pressure checks, so taking the time to know your numbers and seek help if they are persistently raised, will also reduce your chance of untreated high blood pressure, largely silent, yet together with raised cholesterol, among the biggest risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Lastly, stress is a risk factor, so if you are struggling during these difficult times, please don’t ignore the symptoms and seek help in the way you would any physical concern.