Statin use and discontinuation in Danes age 70 and older: a nationwide drug utilisation study

Age Ageing. 2021 Feb 26;50(2):554-558. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afaa160.


Background and objective: There is limited evidence on the clinical effects of statins in older persons. We aimed to explore statin use and discontinuation patterns in Danes age 70 and older.

Design: Register-based drug utilisation study.

Setting: Danish nationwide health registries.

Subjects: All Danish persons aged ≥70 years between 2011 and 2016.

Measurements: (1) Monthly prevalence and (2) quarterly incidence of statin use, (3) characteristics of new users, (4) total amount of statin redeemed, (5) statin discontinuation rate between 2014 and 2016 in long-term statin users and (6) factors associated with discontinuation.

Results: We identified 395,279 unique older statin users between 2011 and 2016. The prevalence increased from 30% in 2011 to 33% in 2016 (23% for primary prevention and 56% for secondary prevention in 2016). The quarterly incidence fell from 11 per 1,000 persons in 2011 to 7 per 1,000 persons in 2016. The prevalence was generally stable in those 70 to 79 years. In those aged ≥80 years, the prevalence increased despite decreasing incidence. The proportion of persons initiating for primary prevention decreased from 58% in 2011 to 52% in 2016. Approximately 19% of long-term statin users discontinued therapy between 2014 and 2016. Increasing age was the strongest predictor of statin discontinuation.

Conclusions: Approximately one in three Danes age ≥ 70 years were taking statins in 2016. The characteristics of incident users shifted between 2011 and 2016, with less people age 80 and older starting on statins and fewer people starting for primary prevention.

Keywords: drug utilisation; medication discontinuation; older people; statins.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Drug Utilization
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors* / therapeutic use
  • Primary Prevention
  • Secondary Prevention


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors