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SPCR doctoral student Dr Ralph Akyea has won the BMJ Heart Research Paper of the Year award for his paper: Sub-optimal cholesterol response to initiation of statins and future risk of cardiovascular disease

The selection criteria included: the relevance of the clinical question addressed by the research; the quality of the research study design and data presentation; and the interest generated by the paper among other researchers, clinical cardiologists, and the general public.

Cardiology in focus mentions Dr Akyea's success with a brief background to his training: "He is a second-year doctoral student and part-time research associate with the Primary Care Stratified Medicine Research Group, at the University of Nottingham.

He received his medical degree from the University of Ghana Medical School and earned his master’s degree in public health from the University of Nottingham. Dr Akyea’s primary research focuses on population health — understanding disease heterogeneity and identifying unique patient groups, with the aim of helping to tailor treatment and management strategies. He is looking forward to a postdoctoral research fellowship in population health after his doctoral studies, with the aim to be a world-class epidemiologist."

Dr Akyea summarises his main findings

Within 24 months of initiating statins, 51.2% of the patients did not achieve the optimal response recommended
by the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence clinical guidelines for lipid management, that is, a 40% reduction in non-HDL cholesterol.

During the follow-up period of about 6.2 years, the risk of first cardiovascular disease event was significantly reduced in patients who did achieve an optimal response. The clinical implication of this study is that both patients and clinicians have a role to play as a suboptimal response to statin therapy may be a result of a number of factors, including genetic differences, non-adherence to prescribed statins or, in some cases, being prescribed low-potency
statins. Clinicians need to ensure effective implementation of guidelines and familiarise ourselves with the goal
of treatment. Continuous regular monitoring of response will also help identify early patients not meeting the set treatment goal. Patients need to be educated on the scientific evidence as it relates to the benefits of statins, and other lipid-lowering therapies should be intensified. Patients should be encouraged to adhere to prescribed medications, including statins. Finally, patients should also be encouraged to openly discuss any issues related to their treatment with a healthcare professional.