Clinical outcomes in statin treatment trials: a meta-analysis

Arch Intern Med. 1999 Aug 9-23;159(15):1793-802. doi: 10.1001/archinte.159.15.1793.


Objective: To determine the risk of cardiovascular events and death in patients receiving statin treatment for cholesterol regulation.

Methods: Systematic review and meta-analysis of all randomized controlled trials that were published as of April 15, 1997. Primary or secondary prevention trials or regression trials were eligible.

Main outcome measures: All-cause mortality, fatal myocardial infarction (MI) or stroke, nonfatal MI or stroke, angina, and withdrawal from the studies. Both random- and fixed-effects models were run for the outcomes of interests, and results are expressed as odds ratios (ORs). Sensitivity analyses tested the impact of the study type and duration, statin treatment type, and control arm event rates. Intent-to-treat denominators were used whenever they were available, and the number needed to treat was calculated when appropriate.

Results: Seventeen studies (21 303 patients) were included (2 secondary prevention studies, 5 mixed primary-secondary prevention population studies, and 10 regression trials). Treatment groups included lovastatin (t = 5), pravastatin (t = 10), and simvastatin (t = 3). For all-cause mortality, the OR was 0.76 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.67-0.86) in favor of receiving statin treatment; for fatal MI, the OR was 0.61 (95% CI, 0.48-0.78); for nonfatal MI, the OR was 0.69 (0.54-0.88); for fatal stroke, the OR was 0.77 (95% CI, 0.57-1.04); for nonfatal stroke, the OR was 0.69 (95% CI, 0.54-0.88); and for angina, the OR was 0.70 (95% CI, 0.65-0.76).

Conclusions: Patients who received statin treatment demonstrated a 20% to 30% reduction in death and major cardiovascular events compared with patients who received placebo. This advantage was generally present across study types and statin treatment types and for patients with less severe dyslipidemias. The benefit in clinical outcomes was noticeable as early as 1 year.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticholesteremic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cause of Death
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Hypercholesterolemia / blood
  • Hypercholesterolemia / drug therapy*
  • Lovastatin / therapeutic use
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pravastatin / therapeutic use
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Simvastatin / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anticholesteremic Agents
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Lovastatin
  • Simvastatin
  • Pravastatin