Objective To estimate the average postponement of death in statin trials.
Primary outcome measures The average postponement of death as represented by the area between the survival curves.
Results 6 studies for primary prevention and 5 for secondary prevention with a follow-up between 2.0 and 6.1 years were identified. Death was postponed between −5 and 19 days in primary prevention trials and between −10 and 27 days in secondary prevention trials. The median postponement of death for primary and secondary prevention trials were 3.2 and 4.1 days, respectively.
Conclusions Statin treatment results in a surprisingly small average gain in overall survival within the trials’ running time. For patients whose life expectancy is limited or who have adverse effects of treatment, withholding statin therapy should be considered.
Strengths and limitations of this study
This is the first study ever to systematically evaluate statin trials using average postponement of death as the primary outcome.
We have only estimated the survival gain achieved within the trials’ running time, whereas in real life, treatment is often continued much longer.
We have only focused on all-cause mortality. Other outcomes may also be relevant, for example, non-fatal cardiovascular end points.