Sticking with your statin prescription may help prolong your life, a large study of U.S. veterans suggests. Researchers found that of more than 347,000 older vets with coronary heart disease (CHD), those who were most adherent to their statin prescription were the least likely to die over the next three years.
There was a clear pattern starting in the first year of the study. Nearly 21,400 patients died. The death rate was 8.8 percent among those who adhered to their statin for fewer than half the days out of a year, versus 5.7 percent among those who were at least 90 percent adherent.
Of course, people who do not take their medication regularly may be in poorer health, have a less healthy lifestyle, or lack support from family and friends—to name a few possibilities. The study tried to account for many of those factors; still, the relationship between good statin adherence and lower death risk remained.
The findings, which were reported last year in JAMA Cardiology, do not prove that statins deserve the credit for longer survival. But they offer one more piece of evidence that the drugs should be a mainstay of CHD treatment. When people skip statin doses, it’s often due to side effects. If that’s the case for you, talk with your doctor. Changing the dosage or switching to another statin often helps.