Older adults may not benefit from taking statins

elderly person taking pills

Statins did not cause a meaningful reduction in heart attacks, coronary heart disease deaths or deaths from any cause in people age 65 and older, a new analysis finds.


The benefits of statins for people older than 75 remain unclear, a new analysis finds. Statins did not reduce heart attacks or coronary heart disease deaths, nor did they reduce deaths from any cause, compared with people not taking statins, researchers report online May 22 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Recently published guidelines cited insufficient data to recommend statins for people older than age 75 who don’t have a history of cardiovascular disease. The new analysis considered a subset of older adults enrolled in a study of heart attack prevention and mortality conducted from 1994 to 2002. The sample included 2,867 adults ages 65 and older who had hypertension, 1,467 of whom took a statin.

There was no meaningful difference in the frequency of heart attacks or coronary heart disease deaths between those who took statins and those who did not. There was also no significant difference in deaths from any cause, both overall and among participants ages 65 to 74 or those 75 and older.

Statin use may be associated with muscle damage and fatigue, which could especially impact older adults and put them at higher risk for physical decline, the authors say.

Aimee Cunningham is the biomedical writer. She has a master’s degree in science journalism from New York University.

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