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Statins have benefits for primary prevention in the over-70s

By Nigel Praities

Statins have benefits for primary prevention in patients over 70 who do not have raised cholesterol levels.

The controversial recommendation comes weeks after a study linked statin use with an increased falls risk in older patients aged 50 to 79 years - but the researchers insist the benefits outweigh the risks.

The post-hoc analysis of 17,000 patients from the JUPITER trial looked at the effect of rosuvastatin 20mg versus placebo in patients aged 70 and older with LDL-cholesterol levels of below 130 mg/dL.

It found the treatment effect on major cardiovascular events and death was 50% times larger in older patients compared with younger patients, with a number needed to treat to prevent a major cardiovascular event of 19 in patients over 70 years, compared with 29 in patients aged 50 to 69 years.

There was no significant increase in serious adverse events in either age group, with non-significant hazard ratios of 1.05 in the 70s and over, and 0.93 in those aged 50 to 69 years.

Presenting the research at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Barcelona, Professor Robert Glynn, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said the result showed ‘significant greater benefit' for statin therapy in the over-70s.

‘JUPITER provides convincing evidence for the benefit of statin therapy in older individuals in the context of primary prevention,' he said

Professor Gabriel Steg, professor of cardiology at the University of Paris, said the study showed the absolute benefit of lipid-lowering was higher in the elderly.

‘This is strong evidence for not depriving elderly patients of the benefits of statins,' he said.

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