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Intern Med J. 2009 May;39(5):277-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1445-5994.2008.01729.x. Epub 2009 Jun 28.

Doctors' perceptions of the prognostic benefit of statins in patients who have had myocardial infarction.

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Department of Medicine, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand.



We wished to assess how General Practitioners (GPs) and cardiologists perceive and communicate the benefits of therapy with statins (hydroxymethylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase inhibitors) in a patient following myocardial infarction.


We interviewed 20 GPs and 22 cardiologists to determine treatment policy and ways of expressing its benefits to a patient after myocardial infarction with moderate dyslipidaemia. We asked what drug and dosage they would recommend and how they would express potential benefits of therapy, given a range of options including reduced relative and absolute risk of events.


Most GPs would start a low dose (10-20 mg/day) of simvastatin (the only freely prescribable funded statin in New Zealand) whereas cardiologists would commence 40 mg/day immediately (P = 0.001). All but one cardiologist would justify therapy to the patient by citing a reduced chance of a major adverse cardiovascular event. Nine GPs and one cardiologist estimated a gain of more than 5 years of life from statin therapy. Cardiologists were more optimistic than GPs about relative risk reduction (P = 0.04). Only 50% of GPs and 68% of cardiologists were able to estimate an absolute risk reduction over 5 years, such estimates varying widely with no significant difference in responses between the groups (P = 0.2). No doctors felt comfortable using number needed to treat or odds ratio.


There were substantial differences between the two groups of clinicians in perception and policy of statin therapy, frequent overestimation of treatment benefits and a reluctance to impart numerical estimates of benefit to patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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