Expert panel recommends use of statin to prevent cardiovascular disease in adults
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently released a final recommendation statement on statin use for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in adults. The Task Force recommends people ages 40 to 75 at high risk for cardiovascular disease take a statin to prevent a first heart attack or stroke.
Statins (also known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors) are a class of lipid-lowering medications that reduce illness and mortality in those who are at high risk of cardiovascular disease. They are the most common cholesterol-lowering drugs.
"Importantly, these guidelines are geared towards primary prevention, thereby excluding patients without a prior history of heart attack, stroke, heart bypass or vascular surgery or stent placement," said Dr. Adrian Messerli, director of UK HealthCare's Interventional Cardiovascular Fellowship. "It is clear that statins benefit these cohorts. For all patients, it is important to remember that statin therapy is safe and effective for cholesterol lowering.
Dr. Messerli continued: "For the average patient between the ages of 40 and 75, these adjusted recommendations suggest that one should consult a physician to determine whether statin therapy is appropriate for prevention. If significant risk factors exist (ie smoking, diabetes and/or hypertension) then it is likely that statin therapy will remain appropriate."
People ages 40 to 75 who are at increased risk, but not at high risk, should decide with their healthcare professional whether to take a statin. More research is needed on whether people 76 or older should start taking a statin to prevent a first heart attack or stroke.
"These recommendations remind us that the data in support of statins for primary prevention in older patients (76 years and up) are lacking. These patients should also get individualized decisions based on composite risk," Messerli said.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in disease prevention and evidence-based medicine. The Task Force works to improve the health of people nationwide by making evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services.