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New Analysis Estimates Numbers of Older U.S. Adults Who May Benefit From Statin Therapy
Date:1/14/2009

s, fewer than half (42 percent) of older Americans who qualify for statin therapy actually get it. Although there are many possible reasons for this lack of treatment, many patients who could benefit are being missed -- and this problem is likely to increase if the size of the population eligible for statins increases, she said.

"We must reduce risk, both with lifestyle changes and when indicated, with medications," said Gardner. "Clearly, as a nation, we are not adequately reducing the risk of those who, even under current guidelines, already need statin treatment but are not receiving it. Determining the most effective ways to do that is paramount."

In JUPITER, researchers explored whether statin use reduced heart attacks, strokes and death in patients who did not have cholesterol levels that would dictate cholesterol-lowering treatment, but had elevated levels of hsCRP, an inflammatory marker. Elevated levels of hsCRP have been associated with the development of coronary artery disease.

"That trial was terminated early after an interim analysis showed greater benefits in people taking statins than in those taking a placebo," Spatz said. "Our suspicion was that the findings from JUPITER might potentially impact a sizeable number of older adults in the United States; the question for us was how many more people might now have an indication to take a statin medication under these criteria."

Spatz used information from the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a periodic survey conducted by the federal government that is statistically representative of the U.S. population. Her study examined data from a subset of 2,322 older men and women who answered the NHANES survey questionnaires and also allowed researchers to take a fasting blood sample to test for a variety of cardiovascular risk factors, including cholesterol level and level of hsCRP.

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SOURCE American Heart Association
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