Resolving a major uncertainty, a large international study has conclusively shown that statin treatment also reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease in women, just as it does in men.
“It has long been known that, by reducing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, statin medications prevent heart attacks and strokes in people at risk of these diseases,” said lead investigator Anthony Keech, professor of medicine, cardiology and epidemiology at University of Sydney.
Whether statin therapy is as effective in women as in men is debated, especially for primary prevention.
“This analysis of the effects of statins on 174,000 patients, undertaken by combining results from 27 different trials, shows beyond any reasonable doubt that women gain the same benefits from statins as men,” Keech added.
Statins are beneficial not only to women who have already had a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke, but also in those who are at an increased risk of such diseases, the findings showed.
These results resolve a major uncertainty about the value of treating women with statin therapy, and reinforce the need for recommendations to treat women to be included in national and international guidelines, Keech added.
Overall, statin treatment reduced the risk of a major vascular event (heart attack, stroke, bypass surgery, cardiac death) by 21 percent for each 1 mmol/L (millimoles per litre) reduction in LDL cholesterol achieved.
The percentage risk reductions were similar in women and men, irrespective of any history of cardiovascular disease.