Statins in Older Danes: Factors Associated With Discontinuation Over the First 4 Years of Use

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2019 Oct;67(10):2050-2057. doi: 10.1111/jgs.16073. Epub 2019 Jul 23.


Background and objective: Use of statins is considerable among older persons. We investigated factors associated with statin discontinuation in new statin users aged 70 years or older within the first 4 years of use.

Design: Register-based descriptive drug utilization study using data from 2008 to 2016.

Population/setting: All Danish persons, aged 70 years or older, initiating statin treatment.

Measurements: Rates and predictors of statin discontinuation after 1 year (early), 2 years, and 4 years. Predictors of discontinuation were estimated using logistic regression.

Results: We included 83 788 statin initiators. At 1 year, 13% had discontinued their treatment, while another 12% and 13% discontinued after 2 and 4 years, respectively. The overall discontinuation rate over 4 years was 32%. Increasing age was associated with discontinuation at all time points (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 2.06 [95% confidence interval {CI} = 1.35-3.16] at 1 year, adjusted OR = 3.94 [95% CI, 1.83-8.49] at 4 years, comparing those aged >95 years to those aged 70-74 years). Further, higher comorbidity scores and use of more than 10 medications were modestly associated with discontinuation. Use of statins for secondary prevention was associated with decreased odds of discontinuation compared to primary prevention at 1 year (adjusted OR = 0.74; 95% CI, 0.65-0.83) and at 4 years (adjusted OR = 0.83; 95% CI, 0.72-0.95), along with concomitant use of cardiovascular (CV) therapies. The annual proportion of early discontinuers ranged from 14% to 17% for primary prevention and from 9% to 12% for secondary prevention between 2008 and 2015.

Discussion: Statin discontinuation within the first 4 years after initiation appeared to be influenced most strongly by age, and may also be influenced by comorbidity, polypharmacy, use for secondary prevention, and concomitant CV medication use. Future research should clarify reasons for, and discussions about, statin discontinuation and initiation among older persons, to provide additional insight on this topic. J Am Geriatr Soc 67:2050-2057, 2019.

Keywords: medication discontinuation; polypharmacy; statins.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Comorbidity
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Divorce / statistics & numerical data
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Polypharmacy
  • Primary Prevention
  • Registries
  • Secondary Prevention


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors