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Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research
Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 915296, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2010/915296
Review Article

Use of Statin Therapy to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk in Older Patients

1Grady Memorial Hospital, School of Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30303, USA
2Department of Medicine, Northwest Cardiovascular Institute, Portland, OR 97210, USA

Received 30 October 2009; Accepted 30 March 2010

Academic Editor: Thomas M. Stulnig

Copyright © 2010 N. K. Wenger and S. J. Lewis. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Background. Cardiovascular disease is the principal cause of mortality in older individuals, and more than 80% of deaths due to coronary heart disease or stroke occur in patients over 65 years of age. Hyperlipidemia is one of the main modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Current guidelines recommend the use of statins to reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol to appropriate targets based on an individual's cardiovascular risk, and clearly state that older age should not be a barrier to treatment. Despite extensive evidence demonstrating clear benefit with statin therapy in older individuals, this population remains chronically undertreated. Scope. This paper provides an overview of the current evidence available regarding the efficacy and safety of statin therapy to reduce cardiovascular risk in older patients. We use hypothetical case studies to address some of the questions frequently posed by physicians responsible for the cardiovascular health of older patients. Conclusions. Various factors may account for the failure to provide appropriate treatment, including a lack of awareness of clinical benefits and perceived safety issues. However, if current guidelines are followed and older patients treated to appropriate LDL-C goals, the likelihood of cardiovascular events will be reduced in this high-risk population. Employing an evidence-based approach to the management of cardiovascular risk in older patients is likely to yield benefits in terms of overall cardiovascular burden.