Even older people could benefit from cholesterol-lowering drug statins

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In two new studies, researchers provide fresh evidence that LDL cholesterol-lowering therapies, including statins, can reduce the rate of major heart disease events in older people.

The first study suggests that among people who have not had a previous cardiovascular event, those aged 70 to 100 years may gain the most benefit from taking medications that lower cholesterol compared to younger age groups, in terms of the number of heart attacks and cardiovascular events that could potentially be prevented per person treated.

The study involved more than 90,000 people living in Copenhagen, Denmark, including 13,779 people aged between 70 and 100 years, concluded that people aged over 70 years had the highest incidence of heart attack of any age group.

The study also estimates that the number of older people who need to receive moderate-intensity statin therapy to prevent one heart attack in five years is fewer than for younger age groups.

One heart attack will be prevented for every 80 people aged 80 to 100 years treated. In people aged 50 to 59 years, 439 need to be treated to prevent one incidence of heart attack, the researchers estimate.

In the second study, researchers show that cholesterol-lowering therapies are as effective at reducing heart disease events in people aged 75 years or older as they are in younger people.

The study included data from more than 21,000 people aged 75 years or older from 29 studies, found that cholesterol-lowering medications reduced the risk of major vascular events in older patients by 26%.

Together, the findings strengthen the evidence that cholesterol-lowering medications can benefit older adults, who have historically been underrepresented in clinical trials of these therapies, and could help reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in an aging population.

Having high levels of LDL cholesterol can lead to narrowing of blood vessels, making it more likely that a person will have a heart attack or stroke.

The study findings are published in The Lancet and The Lancet.

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