Recommendations to treat older adults with hydroxymethylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (statins) for the primary prevention of coronary heart disease events are supported by a single clinical trial restricted to adults 73 years or younger with low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
We investigated the association of statin use with incident cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality during up to 7.3 years' follow-up of 1250 women and 664 men from the Cardiovascular Health Study. Study participants were 65 years and older and free of cardiovascular disease at baseline. They received drug therapy to lower cholesterol levels at baseline or no treatment with a recommendation for therapy according to the National Cholesterol Education Program guidelines. Use of these drugs was assessed annually. We used proportional-hazards models to calculate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs), adjusted for confounding variables.
We found 382 incident cardiovascular events (159 myocardial infarctions, 159 strokes, and 64 deaths due to coronary heart disease) and 362 total deaths from June 1, 1989, to May 31, 1997. Compared with no use of drugs to lower cholesterol levels, statin use was associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular events (multivariate HR, 0.44; 95% CI, 0.27-0.71) and all-cause mortality (HR, 0.56; 95% CI, 0.36-0.88). Similar associations were observed among participants 74 years or older at baseline.
Use of statins was associated with decreased risk of incident cardiovascular events among elderly adults. These findings lend support to the National Cholesterol Education Program guidelines, which recommend therapy for the lowering of cholesterol levels for older adults with hypercholesterolemia.