75 or Older? Statins Can Benefit Your Heart

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY July 7, 2020 (HealthDay News) – Seniors with healthy hearts are likely to benefit from taking a cholesterol-lowering statin.

People 75 and older who were free from heart disease and prescribed a statin were found to have a 25% lower risk of death from any cause and a 20% lower risk of cardiac death , the researchers reported on July 7 in the American Medical Association Journal.

“Based on this data, age is no reason not to prescribe statins,” said lead researcher Dr Ariela Orkaby, medical scientist at the VA Boston Healthcare System and associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital of Boston.

Statins are drugs used to prevent the buildup of plaques that can narrow or block the arteries, leading to a heart attack and stroke.

Until recently, guidelines recommended stopping statin therapy at age 75, said Dr. Mary Ann McLaughlin, medical director of the heart health program at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

“In 2018, the guidelines changed to say that statins are a reasonable choice for people over the age of 75 without a life-threatening illness” like cancer or organ failure, she said.

This new study proves that changing the guidelines to allow statin therapy to continue was the right decision, said McLaughlin, who was not part of the research.

“This age group is one of the fastest growing groups,” she said. “The over 75 cohort lives even longer, and the first evidence of atherosclerotic disease or cardiovascular disease may be sudden death. Many patients lead very active and busy lives until the late 1980s and 90 these days. “

For this study, the Orkaby team analyzed data from more than 300,000 veterans aged 75 and over who used VA health care services between 2002 and 2012. None had suffered a heart attack, d stroke or other heart problem.

Of these veterinarians, more than 57,000 started taking statins during this time. The researchers compared those who used statins to those who didn’t, and found that their risk of heart-related death was considerably lower.


The benefits remained for veterans into advanced ages, including those 90 or older, and were also significant among veterans with dementia, according to the results.

Patients on statins also had a lower risk of heart attacks and strokes, the researchers said.

Since the study was based on VA data, the majority of patients involved were men (97%) and whites (91%), noted McLaughlin.

But ongoing randomized clinical trials will provide additional evidence for statin use in a wider range of older people, Orkaby and McLaughlin said.

There has been an age-related bias in clinical trials of statins because older people tend to have more medical issues and their inclusion can cloud the results, Orkaby said.

“Seniors usually have more than one thing going,” she said. “It is much easier to study people in their 50s who may just have high blood pressure or just have diabetes. When you are doing a big test, you may not want to include people who are going to be hospitalized for another problem – for example, because they fell. “

As a result, “almost all of the data that currently exists on statins pertains to younger people, even though it really is older people who have the greatest risk of having a heart attack or stroke,” Orkaby said.

New findings indicate time to stop age-only discrimination and say there are no data to support the use of statins in older adults, she said. declared.

“We have reasonably good data to suggest that statins could save lives,” said Orkaby. “If you turn 75 and haven’t put on a statin yet, you may be a healthier older person and likely to live another 10 or 15 years. These people could be the ones who would benefit the most, long-term. “

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SOURCES: Ariela Orkaby, MD, MPH, medical scientist, VA Boston Healthcare System and associate epidemiologist, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston; Mary Ann McLaughlin, MD, Medical Director, Heart Health Program, Mount Sinai Hospital, New York;American Medical Association Journal, July 7, 2020

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