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Statins reduce cardiovascular disease risk in older people - review

Friday February 1st, 2019

Patients over the age of 75 benefit from taking statins to reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease, according to an analysis published today.

The research by the University of Oxford, England, and the University of Sydney, Australia, assessed the effects of statins in nearly 187,000 people who had taken part in 28 large clinical trials.

Participants were divided into six age groups – under 55 years, 55-60, 60-65, 65-70, 70-75, and over 75 years – to assess the effects of statins on major vascular events, cancer incidence and deaths.

It was found that statin treatment reduced the risk of a major vascular event overall by about a quarter for each millimole per litre reduction in LDL cholesterol, even in older people.

They also found that statin therapy did not increase the risk of deaths from non-cardiovascular disease, or the risk of cancer, at any age.

New randomised trials are now studying the effects of statins in more depth in apparently healthy older people.

Lead investigator, Professor Anthony Keech, professor of medicine, cardiology and epidemiology at the University of Sydney, said: “Statin therapy has been shown to prevent cardiovascular disease in a wide range of people, but there has been uncertainty about its efficacy and safety among older people.

“Our study summarised all the available evidence from major trials to help clarify this issue. We found that there were significant reductions in major vascular events in each of the six age groups considered, including patients aged over 75 at the start of treatment.”

Co-investigator Professor Colin Baigent, director of the Medical Research Council Population Health Research Unit at the University of Oxford, added: “The risk of heart attacks and strokes increases markedly with age, and yet statins are not utilised as widely in older people as they should be. Since the risk of heart attack and stroke increases with age, the potential benefits are likely to be even greater for older people.

“Therefore, there is a need to ensure that patients at risk of cardiovascular disease due to their age are offered statin therapy where there is good reason to believe that it will be beneficial.”

The Royal College of GPs welcomed the findings.

Vice-chair Dr Martin Marshall said: “It’s particularly reassuring to see evidence of benefit in patients over the age of 75 - the age group most likely to need cholesterol medication, and who are at risk of heart attacks and strokes."

Lancet 1 February 2019

http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)31942-1/fulltext

Tags: Australia | Heart Health | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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