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Continued Statin Therapy Has No Survival Benefit in Advanced Life-Limiting Illness


Clinical question: What is the impact of statin discontinuation in palliative care setting?

Background: There is compelling evidence for prescribing statins for primary or secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease for patients with long life expectancy, but there is no evidence to guide decisions to discontinue therapy in those with limited prognosis.

Study design: Multicenter, unblinded, randomized, and pragmatic clinical trial.

Setting: Academic and community-based clinical sites as a part of the Palliative Care Research Cooperative Group.

Synopsis: The study analyzed the outcomes of 381 patients who had received a prognosis of one-month to one-year life expectancy, with an average age of 74. The participants were divided into two groups: continued statin group and discontinued statin group. Of the 381 participants, 212 survived beyond 60 days.

There was no significant difference between the proportion of participants who died within 60 days, with 45 (23.8%) in the discontinued statin group and 39 (20.3%) in the continued statin group (90% Cl, -3.5%–10.5%; P=0.36). Total quality of life was better for the group discontinuing statin therapy (mean McGill QOL score 7.11 versus 6.85; P=0.04). The researchers estimated that surviving participants would save $3.37 per day and $716 per patient.

Because of a lack of formal guidelines for discontinuation of statin therapy in patients with life-limiting illness, the discontinuation of statin therapy is mostly based on patient-provider decisions.

The results from this study will help physicians have thoughtful patient-provider discussions regarding statin discontinuation.

Citation: Kutner JS, Blatchford PJ, Taylor DH Jr, et al. Safety and benefit of discontinuing statin therapy in the setting of advanced, life-limiting illness: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(5):691–700. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.0289.

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