The value of primary preventative therapies for cardiovascular disease (CVD) in older adults (age ≥75 years) is less certain than in younger patients. There is a lack of quality evidence in older adults due to underenrolment in pivotal trials. While aspirin is no longer recommended for routine use in primary prevention of CVD in older adults, statins may be efficacious. However, it is unclear which patient subgroups may benefit most, and guidelines differ between expert panels. Three relevant geriatric conditions (cognitive impairment, functional impairment and polypharmacy) may influence therapeutic decision making; for example, baseline frailty may affect statin efficacy, and some have advocated for deprescription in this scenario. Evidence regarding statins and incident functional decline are mixed, and vigilance for adverse effects is important, especially in the setting of polypharmacy. However, aspirin has not been shown to affect incident cognitive or functional decline, and its lack of efficacy extends to patients with baseline cognitive impairment or frailty. Ultimately, the utility of primary preventative therapies for CVD in older adults depends on potential lifetime benefit. Rather than basing treatment decisions on absolute risk alone, consideration of comorbidities, polypharmacy and life expectancy should play a significant role in decision making. Coronary calcium score and new tools for risk stratification validated in older adults that account for the competing risk of death may aid in evaluating potential benefits. Given the complexity of therapeutic decisions in this context, shared decision making provides an important framework.
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Twitter @mdmiedema, @JDodsonMD
Correction notice This article has been corrected since it was first published. Middle initial 'A' has been added to author name John A Dodson.
Contributors SM and JAD drafted the initial version of the manuscript. MDM provided critical revisions. All authors read, reviewed and approved the final manuscript.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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