Context: Lowering low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) is known to reduce risk of recurrent coronary heart disease in middle-aged men. However, this effect has been uncertain in elderly people and women.
Objective: To estimate the risk reduction of coronary heart disease and total mortality associated with statin drug treatment, particularly in elderly individuals and women.
Data sources: Trials published in English-language journals were retrieved by searching MEDLINE (1966-December 1998), bibliographies, and authors' reference files.
Study selection: Studies in which participants were randomized to statin or control treatment for at least 4 years and clinical disease or death was the primary outcome were included in the meta-analysis (5 of 182 initially identified).
Data extraction: Information on sample size, study drug duration, type and dosage of statin drug, participant characteristics at baseline, reduction in lipids during intervention, and outcomes was abstracted independently by 2 authors (J.H. and S.V.) using a standardized protocol. Disagreements were resolved by consensus.
Data synthesis: Data from the 5 trials, with 30 817 participants, were included in this meta-analysis. The mean duration of treatment was 5.4 years. Stati n drug treatment was associated with a20% reduction in total cholesterol, 28% reduction in LDL-C, 13% reduction in triglycerides, and 5% increase in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Overall, statin drug treatment reduced risk 31 % in major coronary events (95% confidence interval [CI], 26%-36%) and 21 % in all-cause mortality (95% CI, 14%-28%). The risk reduction in major coronary events was similar between women (29%; 95% Cl, 13 %-42 %) and men (31 %; 95% CI, 26%-35%), and between persons aged at least 65 years (32%; 95% CI, 23%-39%) and persons younger than 65 years (31 %; 95% CI, 24%-36%).
Conclusions: Our meta-analysis indicates that reduction in LDL-C associated with statin drug treatment decreases the risk of coronary heart disease and all-cause mortality. The risk reduction was similar for men and women and for elderly and middle-aged persons.