Elderly patients are a special category of patients, due to the physiological changes induced by age, the great number of comorbidities and drug treatment and last, but not least, to the cognitive dysfunction frequently encountered in this population. Cardiovascular disease is the most important cause of morbidity and mortality in elderly individuals worldwide. The rate of cardiovascular events increases after 65 years in men and after 75 years in women. Myocardial infarction and stroke are the leading disorders caused by atherosclerosis, that lead to death or functional incapacity. Elderly people have a greater risk to develop atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. The incidence and prevalence of atherosclerosis increase with age and the number of cardiovascular events is higher in elderly patients. The most efficient treatment against atherosclerosis is the treatment with statins, that has been shown to decrease the risk both of stroke and coronary artery disease in all age groups. The advantages of the treatment become evident after at least one year of treatment. Primary prevention is the most important way of preventing cardiovascular disease in elderly individuals, by promoting a healthy lifestyle and reducing the risk factors. Secondary prevention after a stroke or myocardial infarction includes mandatory a statin, to diminish the risk of a recurrent cardiovascular event. The possible side effects of statin therapy are diabetes mellitus, myopathy, and rhabdomyolysis, hepatotoxicity. The side effects of the treatment are more likely to occur in elderly patients, due to their multiple associated comorbidities and drugs that may interact with statins. In elderly people, the benefits and disadvantages of the treatment with statins should be put in balance, especially in those receiving high doses of statins.
Keywords: atherosclerosis; elderly; myocardial infarction; statin; stroke.