Statin Medications Less Helpful to Older Adults at High Risk for Dying from Non-heart Related Diseases
Friday, July 24, 2015
A new study suggests that assessing a patient’s overall health risk factors—not just their risk factors for heart disease (also known as cardiovascular disease)—might help physicians decide whether or not to prescribe statins. Statins are a class of medications that help prevent heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels in the blood.
In the study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers examined 16 randomized placebo-controlled trials that included 59,671 older adults (most between the ages of 55 and 75) who were treated with statins, and 59,707 people who were treated with placebos (a harmless substance given in place of the medicine being tested).
The researchers learned that statins had fewer survival benefits for people who were at high risk for non-heart related diseases that cause death (which include cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and accidents) compared to people who were at high risk for death from heart disease. They noted that healthcare providers should potentially consider a patient’s non-cardiovascular risk factors when considering whether or not to prescribe statins.
This summary is from “Statins Benefit Less in Populations with High Non-Cardiovascular Mortality Risk: Meta-regression of Randomized Controlled Trials.” It appears online ahead of print in the July 2015 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The study authors are Caroline A. Kim, MD, MS, and Dae Hyun Kim, MD, MPH, ScD.