Statins alert following error in heart disease risk calculator

Benedict Jephcote
Fri, 13 May 2016
Statins alert following error in heart disease risk calculator
A computer glitch by a heart disease risk calculator used by the NHS may have caused many people to have been incorrectly prescribed or not been offered statins.

Doctors use a calculator, called QRISK2, that takes in a number of risk factors such as age, diabetes status, BMI, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, plus a number of other factors.

An alert has gone out to a third of GP surgeries to contact patients that may have been given an inaccurate assessment of how at risk they are of heart disease.

A proportion of people may either have been given an inflated risk of heart disease and offered statins in error. Alternatively, people at higher risk may not have been flagged as at higher risk of heart disease and therefore not offered statins as would usually be the case.

An investigation is being launched by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The MHRA will work with the company, TPP, that provides the software used to find out how the problem occurred.

The calculator provides a 10 year risk of heart disease and is there to identify people with a longer term risk of heart disease. As a result, the glitch that may have affected a small proportion of patients is likely to be low for those that were incorrectly identified as not being at risk. For patients that were incorrectly diagnosed as being at risk, this may have resulted in being prescribed statins in error.

People with diabetes are at increased risk of heart disease and therefore the glitch has relevance to people with the condition.

Dr Imran Rafi told the BBC, "We would advise our patients who take statins, and those who have cardiovascular problems but don't, not to panic as a result of this news."

Adding, "But if they are concerned they should make a non-urgent appointment with their GP to discuss this."
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