Study Recommends Discontinuing Statins for Terminally Ill Patients

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Discontinuing Statins for Terminally Ill Patients
Discontinuing Statins for Terminally Ill Patients

(HealthDay News) — Discontinuing the use of cholesterol-lowering statins in terminally ill patients may improve their quality of life, according to a new study published online March 23 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study included 381 patients, average age 74, who had late-stage cancer or other fatal illnesses and were taking statins. Half the patients stopped taking statins while the other half continued to take the drugs.

Median survival time for all the patients in the study was 219 days. The percentage of patients who died within 60 days was not significantly different between patients who kept taking statins and those who did not. "If the results we report – improved quality of life, no significant differences in mortality, and modest cost savings – had been produced by a randomized clinical trial of a new drug in patients with advanced life-limiting illness, the trial would be heralded as a breakthrough and there would be discussion of how to speed access to this new drug," the authors write.

"For patients with shorter life expectancy, greater concern about pill burden, and more comfort-oriented goals of care, physicians may endorse discontinuing statins as a means to reduce the number of medications without apparent harmful effects on survival or quality of life," first author Jean Kutner, MD, of the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora, and colleagues write.

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