According to Spanish researchers, there is no evidence supporting the use of statin medication in healthy seniors to prevent heart disease or stroke.
The study looked at data from 47,000 people at least 75 years old without a history of heart disease, and found that statins were not associated with lowered risk of heart disease or death from any cause in healthy people beyond the age of 75.
However, for those between 75 and 84 years-old with type 2 diabetes, a lowered risk of heart disease by 24% and death from any cause by 16% was connected to the use of statins. The protective effect of the statins diminished past the age of 85 and disappeared after age 90.
The study was conducted by Refel Ramos of the University of Girona, Spain and published on September 5th, 2018, in the BMJ.
The results support the use of statins for people aged 75-84 who have type 2 diabetes, but not otherwise healthy seniors 75 years and older.
The article included an editorial which noted that these were only observational findings which need to be confirmed by randomized trials before they are acted upon. Until that time, “patient preference remains the guiding principle while we wait for better evidence,” concluded editorialist Aidan Ryan, academic clinical fellow at the University Hospital Southampton in the United Kingdom.
It should be noted that heart disease is the number one cause of death throughout the world, especially in the above 75 years old population. The use of statin has climbed in recent years with clinical trial evidence supporting their use in people over age 75 who have existing heart disease. However, there is a lack of proof that statins benefit healthy seniors, especially those over 85 years-old and including those with diabetes.