Cholesterol: the public policy implications of not doing enough

A major new report by think tank, The Stockholm Network, shows policy makers are not doing enough to tackle rising cholesterol levels.

The report titled, "Cholesterol: The Public Policy Implications of Not Doing Enough" suggests that there are significant policy, health and societal implications for Europe, as soon as the year 2020, if cholesterol management is not improved now. The report concludes that the crisis could be averted if simple steps are taken to improve access to treatments and encourage implementation of existing cholesterol management guidelines.

Split into two sections - a literature review and a future analysis - The Stockholm Network report examines both the current management of cholesterol in Europe and the predicted implications if this situation persists into the year 2020. Currently, heart disease causes 1.9 million deaths every year in the EU. The increase in levels of the disease is due to a combination of factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cigarette smoking and obesity. While public health programmes have made significant efforts to educate people of the benefits of stopping smoking and losing weight there remains a gaping hole in Government policies to tackle the problem of high cholesterol.

Political columnist Stephen Pollard analyses the situation in 2020 if rising cholesterol levels are left unchecked. He suggests that an ageing population and the rising incidence of diabetes will worsen and the situation will become a health and social welfare crisis. He also examines the strain this will place on Europe's welfare systems and how that will adversely affect national budgets and economic growth.

Leading cardiovascular expert Professor Catapano, Professor of Pharmacology, University of Milan, comments: "This report highlights the significant medical implications of the treatment gap that exists in cholesterol management throughout Europe. However, the medical community can and must take action in addressing poor cholesterol management by using the tools that are available to them right now such as the guidelines and new treatments. In particular at risk patients such as people with diabetes and other high risk factors must be managed more aggressively."

In the literature review, Tony Hockley, the Director of the Policy Analysis Centre and health policy expert, Mike Sedgeley, study the current management of cholesterol in Europe. They highlight that poor cholesterol management is a result of a number of factors including:

  • Inadequate implementation of guidelines
  • Physician fears of side effects with high dose statins
  • Under use of newer therapies to help get patients to target cholesterol levels
  • Poor patient compliance compounded by poor patient-physician communication
  • A disconnect between secondary and primary care management

The Report concludes that reducing cholesterol is one of the key factors in decreasing the incidence of heart disease across the EU. In order to achieve this diminution greater focus must be placed on cholesterol reduction. The report shows that the treatments and guidelines to do this are in place, however they need to be used effectively and immediately to safeguard the health of current and future populations.

http://www.stockholm-network.org

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