More over-75s should take statins, experts say

4th February, 2019 12:05:18 printer

More people over the age of 75 should be taking statins, scientists have said, following a review of research. There had been a lack of evidence about how much the cholesterol-lowering drugs benefit this age group.

But the review found they cut the risk of major cardiovascular disease in all ages studied, including the over-75s. Researchers said thousands of lives could be saved each year if more than the estimated third of UK over-75s who do take statins, were given them. They also said it could improve quality of life for many people.

Cardiovascular disease kills about 150,000 people in the UK each year, with two-thirds of these occurring in people over the age of 75. Statins reduce the build-up of fatty plaques that lead to blockages in blood vessels, though reported side effects and the extent of how often they are prescribed has attracted controversy.

The review, which looked at 28 randomised controlled trials - often called the “gold standard” of studies - involving nearly 190,000 patients, found statins lowered the risk of major cardiovascular disease in the ages studied, from under-55s to over-75s. There were similar reductions in risk for stroke and for coronary stenting or bypass surgery.

Authors of the paper said there had until now been an “evidence gap” around how effective the drugs are for the elderly. They estimate that about a third of the 5.5 million people in the UK over 75 take a statin, when the “vast majority” of these would meet the medicine regulator’s guidelines for being prescribed the drug.

Prof Colin Baigent, one of the authors of the paper, said: “One of the issues we have is that very often doctors are unwilling to consider statin therapy for elderly people simply because they’re old, and that, I think, is an attitude that is preventing us from making use of the tools we have available to us.”     — BBC