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Elderly patients who do not yet suffer from heart disease should still take statins as a precaution, according to a study published on bmj.com.
It reports trials showing that the drug reduces deaths from all causes by 12% and the risk of major events by 30% in patients without established cardiovascular disease.
At the same time, both genders and those with or without diabetes fared equally, and there was no evidence of any increased risk of cancer.
While the study was unable cite any one group that would benefit most from long-term statin use, it says that men over 65 with risk factors and older women with diabetes plus risk factors are the highest-risk groups.
It concludes that given the favourable outcomes for long-term statin treatment, “it would be wrong to deny these benefits to people at increased risk for cardiovascular disease”.
The report covers 10 trials involving over 70,000 patients who were tracked for an average of four years. Differences in study design and quality were taken into account to minimise bias.
Copyright Press Association 2009