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Appropriateness of statin prescription in the elderly

Published:January 05, 2018DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejim.2017.12.011

      Highlights

      • The benefit of statins in people aged >75 years and over is controversial
      • In secondary prevention moderate-intensity statins should be used
      • In secondary prevention statins should be started at a lower dose and titrated with caution
      • Myalgias appear to be dose-dependent in aged individuals
      • In patients aged >75 years, an NNT of 167 per 1 mmol of LDL-cholesterol reduction has been calculated

      Abstract

      Statins, the most widely used drugs in the Western world, have become a pivotal component in the primary and secondary prevention of vascular diseases. Although benefits have been well documented in younger-than-75-year-old individuals, the value of statins in people aged >75 years and over is controversial. The CTT meta-analysis calculated an absolute risk reduction of 0.6%/year per 38.7 mg/dl reduction in LDL-C levels in patients aged >75 years, that would translate into a number needed to treat of 167. However, the absolute effect of a 38.7 mg/dl cholesterol lowering on the rate of annual ischemic heart disease mortality is 10-fold larger in older vs younger patients. In order to advise physician prescription, three major Guidelines have been published over the last few years, i.e. the AHA/ACC and the NLA in the US, and the ESC/EAS in Europe. Moreover, statin prescription in the elderly should also consider the cardiovascular outcomes of elderly patients reported in classical statin preventive trials which give important clues on adherence and persistence of use, as well as on drug safety. The present review discusses benefits of intensive vs moderate statin therapy, justifications for the use of aggressive lipid management in the very old and the use of statins in frail elderlies. The final decision on the therapeutic strategy with statins in elderlies at higher risk to develop cardiovascular events should be always based on a careful analysis of the patient's general health and on the presence of metabolic abnormalities or drug interactions potentially leading to risk.

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