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People 75 and older taking pravastatin (Pravachol) were 34% more likely to die over 8 years
Friday, May 26, 2017 12:59 pm Email this article
People 75-years and older without cardiovascular disease who took the statin, pravastatin (Pravachol, 40 mg/day), to lower cholesterol were 34% more likely to have died during the 8 year study than people of the same age not taking a statin although the difference did not quite reach statistical significance.
(There was a 7% chance that the difference between the two groups was due to random chance, but this is close enough for me.)
There were 92 deaths in the pravastatin group versus 65 deaths in the non-statin group.
At the very least this means that pravastatin (Pravachol) provides no benefit to people of this age, and at worst, it means that pravastatin (Pravachol) increases the risk of death considerably.
Conclusion: Statins provide no benefit in primary prevention in older adults
“Our study found that newly administered statin use for primary prevention had no benefit on all-cause mortality or [coronary heart disease] events compared with [usual care] in the subset of adults 65 years and older with hypertension and moderate hypercholesterolemia in the ALLHAT-LLT,” the authors of the study concluded.
(Primary prevention is when someone does not have cardiovascular disease, but they are given a statin to try and prevent something from happening. Secondary prevention is when someone has cardiovascular disease, that is that they have already had a heart attack or stroke or have chest pain and are trying to prevent something else from happening.)
Subjects: 2867 people without cardiovascular disease
The study, the Lipid-Lowering Trial (LLT) component of the Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial (ALLHAT-LLT), involved 1467 participants in the pravastatin group with an average age of 71 years old (48% female) and 1400 people in the no-statin group with an average age of 71-years-old (51% female).
The study was conducted from February 1994 to March 2002 at 513 clinical sites.
LDL levels: 109 mg/dL in the pravastatin group vs 129 mg/dl in the non-statin group
The average low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels at the start of the study were 148 mg/dL in the pravastatin group and 148 mg/dL in the non-statin group.
By year 6 the average LDL level in the pravastatin group was 109 mg/dL and 129 mg/dL in the non-statin group.
Note that LDL levels in the statin group were lower, but the death rate in the statin group was higher.
Statin manufacturers would like us to believe that lowering LDL is good for us, but this study (and many others) suggest that this is not true.
Han BH, Sutin D, Williamson JD, Davis BR, Piller LB, Pervin H, Pressel SL, and Blaum CS. Effect of Statin Treatment vs Usual Care on Primary Cardiovascular Prevention Among Older Adults: The ALLHAT-LLT Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med, 2017 May 22; published on-line.
Author’s Contact Info
Benjamin H. Han, MD, MPH
Division of Geriatric Medicine and Palliative Care
Department of Medicine
New York University School of Medicine
550 First Ave, Room BCD 615
New York, NY 10016 USA
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