Intended for healthcare professionals

Minerva Minerva


BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 03 June 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:1550

A historical medical textbook, written by an English monk over 800 years ago, went on display last week at the US National Library of Medicine in Bethesda after an absence of over half a century (Washington Post 22 May). The book, which contains many of Hippocrates' famous aphorisms, disappeared under suspicious circumstances sometime in the 1940s. It turned up last year at a rare book market in Southern California. The dealer donated the book to the library after some “decorous wrangling.”

Lipid lowering drugs are expensive but they work, reducing the risk of coronary heart disease even in smokers (Heart 2000;83:619-20). People who cannot stop smoking even though they have a risky serum lipid profile should therefore be offered statins just like everyone else, argue two doctors from Glasgow. There are plenty of effective interventions to help smokers give up, but once these options have been tried and have failed, statins are considerably better than nothing.

The cost effectiveness of statins in people with high serum cholesterol concentrations depends on a wide range of factors including age, sex, and other risk factors for coronary heart disease. One analysis concludes that statins are cost …

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