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ENGLEMED HEALTH NEWS

Over 75s ‘should have drugs to reduce heart disease risk’

Friday July 13th, 2012

People over the age of 75 should be prescribed drugs to help lower their risk of heart disease and prolong healthy life expectancy.

A study published in the British Medical Journal today claims that older people are being “largely ignored” by existing guidance - even though the drugs could be beneficial.

A team of researchers from the University of Birmingham and the University of Oxford, in England, studied 36,679 patients aged 40 and over from 19 general practices in the English West Midlands, to establish if age and sex had influenced prescriptions for blood pressure cholesterol.

None of the patients had a history of heart disease at the start of the study, and the results showed that the likelihood of using blood pressure medication increased with every five years, but started to decline after the age of 85.

Fifty-six per cent of patients aged 75 and over had the highest use overall and women were 10 per cent more likely to be taking blood pressure treatment than men.

The likelihood of using statin medication also increased with every five years but decreased with every five years once the patients reached 75.

Researchers found that 23 per cent of all patients aged 75 and over took statins, with those aged 70-74 having the highest use. Women aged between 65 and 69 and 75 and 79 were five per cent more likely to be issued a prescription than men while men under the age of 60 were more likely to be issued a prescription.

The authors said a 2008 study demonstrated that blood pressure treatment in the over 80s can reduce the risk of heart disease. Although the evidence for statin treatment in the elderly is not as clear cut because there have been no trials in this age group, the authors say there is no evidence to suggest that prescribing statins in elderly patients causes any harm.

The authors recommend that guidelines should be modified and future research should look at the use of statin therapy in people aged 80 or more and that treating those aged 75 and over with these drugs “could be an appropriate place to start”.

June Davison, of the British Heart Foundation, said: “The older population is increasing, and doctors should consider how prescribing drugs to prevent cardiovascular disease could help reduce disability and increase life expectancy in this group.

“Available evidence would suggest that older people can benefit from heart protective drugs, but more research is needed.

“Sometimes there are good reasons for not prescribing certain medicines. An older person may be more vulnerable to particular side-effects, or already be on multiple medicines for other health conditions, meaning it isn’t always appropriate to prescribe additional medicines."

Impact of age and sex on primary preventive treatment for cardiovascular disease in the West Midlands, UK: cross sectional study. Sheppard J et al. BMJ 2012;345:e4535 doi: 10.1136/bmj.e4535

Tags: Elderly Health | Heart Health | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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