Background The 2012 European guidelines recommend statins for intermediate-risk individuals with elevated cholesterol levels. Improved discrimination of intermediate-risk individuals is needed to prevent both cardiovascular disease (CVD) and statin side-effects (e.g. myopathy) efficiently since only 3-15 in every 100 individuals actually experience a cardiovascular event in the next 10 years. We estimated the potential cost-effectiveness of a hypothetical test which helps to determine which individuals will benefit from statins.Methods and results Prognosis of different age- and gender-specific cohorts with an intermediate risk was simulated with a Markov model to estimate the potential costs and quality-adjusted life-years for four strategies: treat all with statins, treat none with statins, treat according to the European guidelines, or use a test to select individuals for statin treatment. The test-first strategy dominated the other strategies if the hypothetical test was 100% accurate and cost no more than €237. This strategy and the treat-all strategy were equally effective but the test generated lower costs by reducing statin usage and side-effects. The treat-none strategy was the least effective strategy. Threshold analyses show that the test must be highly accurate (especially sensitive) and inexpensive to be the most cost-effective strategy, since myopathy has a negligible impact on cost-effectiveness and statin costs are low. Conclusion Use of a highly accurate prognostic test could reduce overall CVD risk, frequency of drug side-effects and lifetime costs. However, no additional test would add usefully to risk prediction over SCORE when it does not satisfy the costs and accuracy requirements.

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Keywords cardiovascular disease, cost-effectiveness, decision modelling, prevention, statins, test
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Journal International Journal of Cardiology
Burgers, L.T, Nauta, S.T, Deckers, J.W, Severens, J.L, & Redekop, W.K. (2014). Is it cost-effective to use a test to decide which individuals with an intermediate cardiovascular disease risk would benefit from statin treatment?. International Journal of Cardiology, 176(3), 980–987. doi:10.1016/j.ijcard.2014.08.134