It is already known that cholesterol-lowering statins help reduce heart risks in the elderly and the middle-aged. Research confirms that medications can also help people aged 75 and over.
"It has been proven that statin therapy prevents cardiovascular disease in a large number of people, but its effectiveness and safety are uncertain among the elderly," said chief investigator Anthony Keech. He is a professor of medicine, cardiology and epidemiology at the University of Sydney in Australia.
With colleagues from the University of Oxford in England, he analyzed the results of 28 large clinical trials of statins. The trials involved nearly 187,000 people belonging to six age groups: under 55; 55 to 60; 60 to 65 years old; 65 to 70; 70 to 75; and over 75 years old.
"Our study summarized all available evidence from key trials to clarify this problem.We found a significant reduction in the number of major vascular events in each of the six age groups considered, including patients . [who were] more than 75 years old at the beginning of treatment, "Keech said in a press release published in Oxford.
Major vascular events included a heart attack, stroke, and procedures to clear blocked arteries.
"Statin therapy appears to be just as effective in people over 75 as in young people," said study co-investigator Jordan Fulcher in a press release. Fulcher is a researcher in cardiovascular research at the University of Sydney.
"We have conclusive evidence that statins are beneficial to older people who have suffered a heart attack or stroke, and fewer healthy seniors have been represented in these trials. so that more detailed information in this group of people would help confirm the same benefits as those seen in all of our population trials, "he said.
Fulcher noted that a new randomized trial in Australia is investigating whether statins prolong disability-free survival in a healthy population.
The risk of heart attack and stroke increases sharply with age, but statins are not used as widely in the elderly as they should, the co-investigator said. the study, Colin Baigent, in a press release. He is Director of the Population Health Research Unit of the Medical Research Council of Oxford.
"As the risk of heart attack and stroke increases with age, the potential benefits are likely to be even greater for older people," he said.
"Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that patients at risk of cardiovascular disease because of their age are offered statin therapy where there is good reason to believe that it will be beneficial," said Baigent.
Anyone who is worried about whether statin therapy is right for them should discuss it with their health care provider, he added.
The results were published Jan. 31 in The Lancet.