Statin use and incident frailty in women aged 65 years or older: prospective findings from the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2008 Apr;63(4):369-75. doi: 10.1093/gerona/63.4.369.


Background: Inflammatory biomarkers have shown consistent associations with disability and frailty in older adults. Statin medications may reduce the incidence the frailty because of their anti-inflammatory effects. This study examines associations between current use, duration, and potency of statin medications and incident frailty in initially nonfrail women 65 years old or older.

Methods: The authors conducted a prospective analysis of data from the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study (WHI-OS) conducted at 40 clinical centers in the United States. Eligible women were nonfrail and 65-79 years old at baseline (n = 25,378). Current statin use at baseline was ascertained through direct inspection of medicine containers during clinic visits. Frailty was ascertained through self-reported indicators and physical measurements at baseline and 3-year clinic contacts. Components of frailty included self-reported low physical function, exhaustion, low physical activity, and unintended weight loss. Multinomial logistic regression models were used to adjust for covariates predicting incident frailty.

Results: Among the 25,378 eligible women, 3453 (13.6%) developed frailty by the 3-year follow-up contact. Current statin use had no association with incident frailty (multivariate-adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 1.00; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.85-1.16). Duration and potency of statin use were also not significantly associated with incident frailty. Among low potency statin users, longer duration of use was associated with reduced risk of frailty (p for trend =.02). A similar pattern of results was observed when frailty was studied in the absence of intervening, incident cardiovascular events.

Conclusions: Overall, incidence of frailty was similar in current statin users and nonusers.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / drug effects*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Utilization / statistics & numerical data
  • Fatigue / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly / statistics & numerical data*
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Motor Activity
  • Prospective Studies
  • Weight Loss
  • Women's Health


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors