This study also shows the safety of statin therapy, even in apparently healthy people, as "there was no evidence for an increase in non-cardiovascular mortality," Fonarow said.
The report is published in the June 28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
For the study, Dr. Sreenivasa Rao Kondapally Seshasai, from the cardiovascular epidemiology unit at the University of Cambridge and Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, and colleagues pooled data from 11 studies, which included 65,229 participants. In all, 32,623 of these individuals took statins and 32,606 were taking a placebo.
During almost four years of follow-up, 2,793 people died. Among those who died, 1,447 were taking a placebo and 1,346 were taking statins, the researchers found. This difference was not statistically significant, they noted.
Even though the statins were doing their job and the levels of LDL, or "bad," cholesterol were higher among people taking the placebo than those taking statins, there was no association between risk of dying and LDL levels, Seshasai's group found.
Currently, some 33.5 million older Americans, according to the American Heart Association, are taking a statin or have risk factors that suggest a need for statin therapy. However, another 11 million older Americans at risk for heart disease may be eligible for statin therapy, according to the association.
Previous data suggests that people who have cardiovascular disease benefit from statin therapy. Various studies have found that these drugs prevent complications from cardiovascular disease and lower the risk of dying in this population.
However, there is much less evidence that statins lower the risk of dying prematurely in people without heart disease.
"Current prevention guidelines endorse statin therapy for sub
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