Harvard Women's Health Watch

Statins lower heart attack risks in people without heart disease

Taking cholesterol-lowering statins can reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke in older adults with no history of heart disease, although it doesn't seem to have an effect on their risk of death. This is according to an analysis of eight randomized, controlled studies including 24,674 people over age 65. Compared with participants who were taking an inactive pill (placebo), those who were on statins had a 39.4% lower risk of heart attack (2.7% on statins vs. 3.9% with placebo) and a 23.8% lower risk for stroke (2.1% with statins vs. 2.8% with placebo). The authors say their study provides evidence for the first time that statins lower heart attack and stroke risk in people over age 65 without heart disease. Currently, most guidelines don't recommend statins to prevent heart disease before it starts. However, this study may prompt more research into whether older adults can benefit from starting statin treatment sooner to reduce their heart disease risk.

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