Statins reduce heart attack and stroke risk in older people

1 February 2019        

Category: Research

According to new research that we part-funded, statins lower the risk of heart attack and stroke in all ages, including older people over the age of 75. The study was published in The Lancet today.

generic statin drugs in their packaging

This new study also revealed that statin therapy did not increase the risk of deaths from diseases not linked to the heart, including cancer.

28 major clinical trials later

Scientists at the University of Oxford and University of Sydney investigated 28 major statins treatment clinical trials, totalling 186,854 people. The study looked into the effect of statins in a wide range of age groups: 55 and under, 56-60, 61-65, 66-70, 71-75, and over 75 years of age.

Professor Anthony Keech and his team found a significant reduction in heart and circulatory events in all six age groups, including people over 75 years of age at the start of their treatment. In these older people, statin treatment lowered the risk of a severe event by up to 20% for every millimole per litre reduction in ‘bad’, or LDL, cholesterol.

These findings follow on from decades of research showing that people who have already suffered a heart attack or stroke will significantly lower their risk of a future event by taking them.

Statins work by lowering cholesterol. They are one of the most widely prescribed drugs in the UK, based on a wealth of evidence that they save lives by reducing a person's risk of a deadly or disabling heart attack or stroke.

Powerful evidence for using statins

Our Medical Director, Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, said:

“Concern has been raised about the benefits of statins in older people. This large analysis provides powerful evidence 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 people who are likely to benefit.”

Read more about statins here