Discontinuing Statins in Patients with Life-Limiting Illnesses

July 21, 2014
Amy P. Abernethy, MD, PhD

Amy P. Abernethy, MD, PhD, associate professor, School of Nursing, director, Duke Center for Learning Health Care, Duke University School of Medicine, discusses the results of a multisite randomized trial that examined continuing versus discontinuing statins in the setting of life-limiting illness.

Amy P. Abernethy, MD, PhD, associate professor, School of Nursing, director, Duke Center for Learning Health Care, Duke University School of Medicine, discusses the results of a multisite randomized trial that examined continuing versus discontinuing statins in the setting of life-limiting illness.

Clinical Pearls:

  • The number of medicines a patient takes doubles in their last year of life.
  • Statins are prescribed to lower lipids and reduce the chance of developing heart disease and stroke.
  • This study found that discontinuing statins did not cause any overall change in survival and the primary outcome (60 day mortality) and overall survival was not statistically different between the group that discontinued statins and the group that continued statins.
  • Patients who discontinued their statins reported improved quality of life. There was also a trend towards fewer symptoms and improved satisfaction of care.
  • A cost analysis also showed a decrease in the cost of medication when statin medications were discontinued.