PERFORMANCE: An east London health initiative that has helped prevent 37 heart attacks and deaths in the area in the last year has been shortlisted for a National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence Shared Learning Award.

Using guidance from NICE, the local project encouraged doctors across the boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Newham and Hackney to prescribe statins to patients who were already known to have angina or to those who had previously had a heart attack.

Cardiovascular disease is a particular problem in east London, where more people suffer from the condition than anywhere else in the capital.

By helping doctors implement NICE’s clinical guideline, statin prescribing to those at risk of a heart attack or stroke increased from 65 per cent in 2004 to 93 per cent in 2010 across Tower Hamlets, Newham and Hackney primary care trusts.

The areas now also have some of the best levels of statin prescription in England and Wales at low cost. The project promoted the use of the generic statin simvastatin.

As a result, 4,000 extra people are now on statins and there have been 37 fewer heart attacks or deaths from the condition in the last year, according to NICE.

The project, which was led by the clinical effectiveness group at London’s Queen Mary University, has been shortlisted as an example of NICE guidance in practice.

Three shortlisted projects will be voted on by delegates at the NICE conference in Birmingham on 10-11 May to determine the overall Shared Learning Award winner.