Intended for healthcare professionals


Secondary prevention in coronary heart disease

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 05 December 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1592

Secondary prevention in coronary heart disease

  1. R E Ferner, Director
  1. West Midlands Centre for Adverse Drug Reaction Reporting, City Hospital, Birmingham B18 7QH
  2. Coronary Prevention Group, London WC1E 7DB

    EDITOR—Campbell et al surveyed the true rates of treatment with various forms ofsecondary prophylaxis in patients with coronary heart disease, at least in those general practices that participated.1 The authors do not consider the utilitarian argument that it is best to do the greatest good for the greatest number. The figure shows the number of lives saved per £100 000 spent on drugs for secondary prevention, based on the approximate number of patient years of treatment needed to save one life. If “all bad things” are considered2 then aspirin (after the first five weeks)3 and simvastatin4 will both prevent about one bad thing for every 30-40 years of patient use, but £100 000 …

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