Role of statins in primary prevention questioned

Statins do not reduce mortality rates in patients with no history of cardiovascular disease, a meta-analysis by UK researchers suggests.

Statins do not reduce mortality in patients with no history of CVD (Photograph: SPL)
Statins do not reduce mortality in patients with no history of CVD (Photograph: SPL)

Dr Kausik Ray and colleagues from Cambridge University examined data from 11 studies involving statin therapy in 65,000 participants at high-risk of vascular events, but without cardiovascular disease (CVD). The participants in this primary prevention setting were treated for an average of 3.7 years.

The researchers found that the use of statins was not associated with a statistically significant reduction in the risk of all-cause mortality.

They concluded: ‘In contrast to single studies and previous meta-analyses, the present report suggests that all-cause mortality benefits are more modest in the short term, even among high-risk primary prevention populations.’

The researchers said their findings highlighted the need for caution when extrapolating potential benefits of statins on mortality to lower-risk primary prevention populations.

‘Current prevention guidelines endorse statin therapy for subjects at high global risk of incident CVD as a means to reduce fatal and nonfatal vascular events,’ they added. ‘Due consideration is needed in applying statin therapy in lower-risk primary prevention populations.’

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