Background: Although statins reduce coronary and cerebrovascular morbidity and mortality in middle-aged individuals, their efficacy and safety in elderly people is not fully established. Our aim was to test the benefits of pravastatin treatment in an elderly cohort of men and women with, or at high risk of developing, cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Methods: We did a randomised controlled trial in which we assigned 5804 men (n=2804) and women (n=3000) aged 70-82 years with a history of, or risk factors for, vascular disease to pravastatin (40 mg per day; n=2891) or placebo (n=2913). Baseline cholesterol concentrations ranged from 4.0 mmol/L to 9.0 mmol/L. Follow-up was 3.2 years on average and our primary endpoint was a composite of coronary death, non-fatal myocardial infarction, and fatal or non-fatal stroke. Analysis was by intention-to-treat.
Findings: Pravastatin lowered LDL cholesterol concentrations by 34% and reduced the incidence of the primary endpoint to 408 events compared with 473 on placebo (hazard ratio 0.85, 95% CI 0.74-0.97, p=0.014). Coronary heart disease death and non-fatal myocardial infarction risk was also reduced (0.81, 0.69-0.94, p=0.006). Stroke risk was unaffected (1.03, 0.81-1.31, p=0.8), but the hazard ratio for transient ischaemic attack was 0.75 (0.55-1.00, p=0.051). New cancer diagnoses were more frequent on pravastatin than on placebo (1.25, 1.04-1.51, p=0.020). However, incorporation of this finding in a meta-analysis of all pravastatin and all statin trials showed no overall increase in risk. Mortality from coronary disease fell by 24% (p=0.043) in the pravastatin group. Pravastatin had no significant effect on cognitive function or disability.
Interpretation: Pravastatin given for 3 years reduced the risk of coronary disease in elderly individuals. PROSPER therefore extends to elderly individuals the treatment strategy currently used in middle aged people.