Statin therapy benefits women as well as men

A meta-analysis confirmed that women equally benefit from the use of statins. The study published online Jan. 9 in The Lancet found that statin use reduced risks for major vascular events by 21 percent per 1 mmol/L reduction in low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in both sexes.

The Cholesterol Treatment Trialists (CTT) Collaboration pooled data from 27 different trials through 2010. Of these, 22 studies compared statins against a control and five studies compared more-intensive against less-intensive treatments.

A little more than a quarter of patients (26.8 percent) were women. While the researchers noted that female patients tended to be older, they found that there was little difference between mortality, stroke, coronary revascularization and major cardiovascular event rates between the sexes when treated with stains.

The research team found that overall the risk for major cardiovascular events was around 3 percent per year among women and 4.4 percent among men. The risk of all-cause mortality was reduced similarly between men and women (relative risk: 0.90 vs. 0.91, respectively). This translated into a 9 percent reduction in risk of death per mmol/L reduction in LDL cholesterol for both men and women, although women had lower average cardiovascular risk in the trials.

In a press release, Anthony Keech, lead investigator and professor of medicine, cardiology and epidemiology at the University of Sydney said that the results help physicians understand the value of treating women with statin therapy. “There has been a recent worldwide shift towards recommending treatment with statins to people without existing cardiovascular disease but with a sufficiently high risk of future disease. The results of this study will reassure doctors that these risk-based guidelines for treatment can be applied to men and women equally.”

They noted that as benefits exceeded known hazards and are widely available, the results suggested statins are as an effective means of preventing cardiovascular disease progression among both sexes.