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expert reaction to study looking at statins in the over-75s and cardiovascular disease risk

A study, published in the European Heart Journal, reports an increased risk of cardiovascular disease for over 75 year olds who stop taking statins.


Prof Kausik Ray, Chair in Public Health, Imperial College London, said:

“This study is based on observational data, but has a large sample size and consistent with what we know in other populations, where similar analyses were done.  The key message is patients who stop taking their statins do worse than those who continue to take the medications.  A specific randomised trial called STAREE, in Australia, is evaluating this from a trial perspective.

“A previous analysis, from a collaboration called the Cholesterol Treatment Triallists Collaboration and published in the Lancet earlier this year, suggests that in randomised trials older patients taking statins derive similar relative benefits to younger patients taking the medication.”


Prof Sir Nilesh Samani, Medical Director, British Heart Foundation, said:

“Old age itself – particularly reaching the age of 75 and above – puts people at increased risk of a heart attack or stroke.  This risk can be heightened by factors such as high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure, even in those who are otherwise seemingly healthy.

“Concern has been raised about the benefits of statins in older people.  This study, although observational, adds to a growing body of evidence showing that statins reduce heart attacks and strokes in older people, as they do in younger people, and are safe.

“Age should not be a barrier to prescribing these potentially life-saving drugs to those people who are likely to benefit.”


‘Cardiovascular effect of discontinuing statins for primary prevention at the age of 75 years: a nationwide population-based cohort study in France’ by Philippe Giral et al. was published in the European Heart Journal at 00:05 UK time on Wednesday 31 July 2019. 

DOI: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehz458


Declared interests

Prof Kausik Ray: “Outside of this work Professor Ray has acted as a consultant for a number of companies for therapies related to cholesterol lowering.”

None others received.


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