Statins lower mortality for seniors

Researchers from the Boston VA, Harvard, and other institutions recently learned that statins can do for people 75 and older who don’t have cardiovascular disease.

Looking at available data from more than 57,000 veterans, they found that starting to take a statin at that age can slash your risk of developing atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

It can also reduce your risk of dying from any cause over the course of four to 14 years by 25%, and from a cardiovascular event like a heart attack or stroke by 20%.

The study:

Among US veterans 75 years and older and free of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease at baseline, is statin use associated with lower risk of mortality?

 In this retrospective cohort study that used propensity score overlap weighting and included 3, 26 981 participants, statin use, compared with no statin use, was significantly associated with a lower risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality (hazard ratios, 0.75 and 0.80, respectively).

It was found that among older US veterans without atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease at baseline, statin therapy was significantly associated with a lower risk of mortality.

Retrospective cohort study used Veterans Health Administration (VHA) data on adults 75 years and older, free of ASCVD with a clinical visit in 2002-2012. Follow-up continued through December 31, 2016. All data were linked to Medicare and Medicaid claims and pharmaceutical data. A new-user design was used, excluding those with any prior statin use. Cox proportional hazards models were fit to evaluate the association of statin use with outcomes. Analyses were conducted using propensity score overlap weighting to balance baseline characteristics.

The primary outcomes were all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. Secondary outcomes included a composite of ASCVD events (myocardial infarction, ischemic stroke, and revascularization with coronary artery bypass graft surgery or percutaneous coronary intervention).

Of 3, 26 981 eligible veterans newly initiated statins during the study period. There were 22.6 and 25.7 cardiovascular deaths per 1000 person-years among statin users and nonusers.

New statin use was significantly associated with a lower risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality.

But the American Board of Internal Medicine wants people to recognize that statins do pose risks to older folks: Muscle aches and pains, nausea and intestinal woes, memory loss or confusion, and interaction with various other medications are possible.

Australian government’s health advice lists some side effects of statins.

It advises that most people who take statins do not notice any side effects. Side effects that can occur tend to be mild and temporary, and include muscle pain, abnormal liver enzyme levels and a slightly increased risk of diabetes. Serious side effects are rare.

Balancing benefits and risks

There have been questions raised in the media over the benefits of statins. Peak health organisations have urged people who take statins to consult their doctors before stopping any prescribed medicines.

The benefits of statin treatment have been shown to outweigh the risk of possible side effects in most people at high risk of heart attack or stroke. If you are taking statins and have any concerns, talk to your doctor before making any changes.

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