Taking statins may reduce risk of early death in older adults, study finds

Jul 08, 2020
The purpose of the medication is to lower levels of LDL cholesterol. Source: Getty.

We all know that statins are primarily prescribed to help lower cholesterol levels, but a new study has found the drugs, which often get a pretty bad rap, could slash the risk of early death.

The study on over 300,000 US veterans 75 years or older, found those who were prescribed statins were 25 per cent less likely to die from any cause. The researchers also found the risk of dying from a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke, was 20 per cent lower for those taking the cholesterol-lowering drugs. The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

An accompanying editorial by Australian experts said the findings support treatment guidelines that have increasingly advocated for more widespread use of statin therapy for prevention in older individuals.

Statins are commonly studied and prescribed for middle-aged adults but understudied in people over age 75,” lead author Ariela Orkaby said, according to The Mirror. “One of the most remarkable things about our results is that we found the benefit of statins held true regardless of whether a person was older or younger or had a condition such as dementia.”

The effectiveness of statins has long divided the medical world. While some health professionals think it’s great medication, others aren’t sure how beneficial to health the cholesterol-lowering drugs actually are. The purpose of the medication is to lower levels of LDL cholesterol (known as ‘bad’ cholesterol) which can lower the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other health problems associated with cardiovascular disease.

It comes just a few weeks after a new study found the cholesterol-lowering drugs are associated with a lower death rate in patients hospitalised with Covid-19. The research, published in the journal Cell Metabolism last month, also showed that mortality risk and other negative outcomes were not increased by combination therapy consisting of statins and blood pressure-lowering drugs, known as ACE inhibitors, and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs).

“These results support the safety and potential benefits of statin therapy in hospitalised patients with Covid-19 and provide a rationale for prospective studies to determine whether statins confer protection against Covid-19-associated mortality,” study author Hongliang Li of Wuhan University said.

“Moreover, our findings represent an important contribution to the accumulating clinical evidence regarding the beneficial or detrimental effects of prescribing ACE inhibitors or ARBs to patients with Covid-19.”

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