Discontinuing statin treatment in patients with advanced illness is safe and may be associated with improved quality of life and reduced health care costs.

Summary:  There is compelling evidence to begin statin treatment to prevent cardiovascular disease, but evidence to guide decisions about whether to continue this treatment in patients with advanced illness is lacking. In a recent multicenter pragmatic trial, researchers in the Palliative Care Research Cooperative Group examined the safety of discontinuing statin therapy in patients with advanced, life-limiting illness by randomizing 381 patients to either continue or discontinue statin therapy. They found no significant difference in the proportion of patients who died within 60 days between the two groups, and also found small improvements in quality of life among patients who discontinued statins. In addition to these health benefits, the cost savings attributable to statin therapy discontinuation was $3.37 per day, or about $716 per patient. These findings suggest that discontinuing statin treatment in patients with advanced illness is safe and may be associated with other benefits, contributing to the evidence base needed to inform decision making about statin therapy at the end of life.

Abstract: 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 May; 175(5): 691-700. PMID: 25798575