Statin use may not benefit people ages 75 or older, study suggests

Research we're watching

To provide more information on the value of statins for older people, which is still a matter of debate, researchers analyzed data on people over 65 who were enrolled in ALLHAT-LLT, a large study conducted between 1994 and 2002.

All participants (average age 71) had high cholesterol and high blood pressure but not heart disease. They were randomly assigned to two groups. One group, of 704 women and 763 men, took pravastatin (Pravachol). The other group, of 711 women and 689 men, didn't take a statin. The analysis indicated that during the five-year study period, there was no significant difference between the groups in the frequency of heart attacks, deaths from heart disease, or deaths from any cause, either among participants ages 65 to 74 or among those 75 or older. The results were published online May 22, 2017, by JAMA Internal Medicine.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Gregory Curfman, editor in chief of Harvard Health Publishing, notes that statin therapy may be associated with problems such as muscle pain and weakness, back conditions, and injuries. It's wise to weigh the risks and benefits of statins with your doctor.