Statins work, no matter at what age, says Lancet study

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Stent implant concept as a heart disease treatment symbol with an angioplasty procedure in an artery that has cholesterol plaque blockage being opened for increased blood flow as a 3D illustration.

Statins reduce the risk of vascular events in older people, even those above 75

A meta-analysis has found that despite less evidence in the over 75s than in younger patients, statins work at every age in reducing cardiovascular risks.

The research found no adverse effects of statin therapy on non-vascular mortality or cancer.

Statins are cholesterol lowering drugs that are widely prescribed to patients at increased risk of heart attacks or strokes

The research, published in The Lancet, summarises evidence from 28 randomised controlled trials, including 186,854 patients, 14,483 of whom were aged over 75.

Irrespective of age, statins reduced risks of major vascular events by about a fifth per 1 mmol/L reduction in LDL cholesterol. For major coronary events the overall reduction was about a quarter per 1 mmol/L reduction overall, but ranged from about 30% in those aged <55 years to around 20% in those aged >75. The relative risk reductions for stroke and for coronary revascularisation (coronary stenting or bypass surgery) were similar in all age groups.

Dr Jordan Fulcher of the Cholesterol Treatment Trialists’ (CTT) Collaboration, who is based at the University of Sydney NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre, Australia, says: “Statins are a useful and affordable drug that reduce heart attacks and strokes in older patients. Until now there has been an evidence gap and we wanted to look at their efficacy and safety in older people. Our analysis indicates that major cardiovascular events were reduced by about a fifth, per mmol/L lower LDL cholesterol, by statin therapy across all age groups. Despite previous concerns we found no adverse effect on cancer or non-vascular mortality in any age group.”

Statins are cholesterol lowering drugs that are widely prescribed to patients at increased risk of heart attacks or strokes. Evidence from randomised trials has shown that statin therapy reduces this risk among a wide range of individuals but there has been uncertainty about their benefits in older people.

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