February 10, 2009

Statins associated with lower death risk

An Israeli study suggests patients with high cholesterol levels who continually take statins have a lower risk of death over four to five years.

Researchers at Maccabi Healthcare Services and the Sackler Faculty of Medicine in Tel Aviv, Israel, said the lower death risk was seen regardless of whether the patients already had diagnosed heart disease.

In the study, Dr. Varda Shalev and colleagues analyzed data from 229,918 adults enrolled in a health maintenance organization who began taking statins between 1998 and 2006.The researchers said they found continuity of taking statins conferred at least a 45 percent reduction in the risk of death as compared with patients who took statins less than 10 percent of the time.

In conclusion, this study showed that the continuation of statin treatment provided an ongoing reduction in all-cause mortality for up to 9.5 years among patients with and without a history of coronary heart disease, the scientists said. The observed benefits from statins were greater than expected from randomized clinical trials, emphasizing the importance of promoting statin therapy and increasing its continuation over time for both primary and secondary prevention.

The findings are reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine.