May 25, 2017 — Healthy adults over the age of 65 who do not have heart disease are more likely to die and gain no benefits from using cholesterol-lowering statins, according to a shocking new study from researchers at New York University.
Lipitor (atorvastatin) is the most popular drug of all time by a wide margin. Some of the less-popular “cholesterol pills” include Crestor, Zocor, Pravachol, and a wide range of generic statins.
All of these drugs slow down the production of cholesterol in the liver. Statins reduce the risk of having another heart attack for people with heart problems, but benefits are less clear for healthy people.
There is “no data to support the use of statins for people over the age of 75,” according to Dr. Ross Walker. Even so, prescriptions for statins in adults over 79 years old have tripled to 34% over the last decade.
In a study published by JAMA Internal Medicine, experts are now questioning if statins do more harm than good. According to the authors of the study:
Statin therapy in older adults may be associated with an increased mortality rate should be considered before prescribing or continuing statins for patients in this age category.”
The researchers analyzed data from the ALLHAT-LIT clinical trial, a randomized placebo-controlled study that randomly assigned 2,900 people to take 40-mg of Pravachol or a useless placebo every day.
All of the patients in the study were over 65 years old and did not have heart disease. The good news is that patients on Pravachol had a slightly fewer number of heart attacks than patients on a placebo. The bad news is that the benefits were not even statistically significant.
Shockingly, healthy patients on Pravachol were significantly more likely to die than patients on a placebo. There were 141 deaths for Pravachol patients aged 65 to 74 years old vs. 113 placebo patients.
The increased risk of death was even more dramatic for adults over 75 years old. There were 92 deaths in the Pravachol group vs. 65 deaths in the placebo group. Pravachol is one of the weakest statins, which raises concerns about stronger statins like Lipitor and Crestor.