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Women Versus Men: Is There Equal Benefit and Safety from Statins?


Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death in the United States. CHD risk differs between genders, with coronary events lagging behind ten years for women in comparison to men. Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol lowering with statin therapy is a major target for cardiovascular risk reduction. The benefit of statin therapy has been well established in men, for both primary and secondary prevention. However, the same has not been shown for women. While studies have demonstrated benefit in women for secondary prevention, their role in primary prevention of cardiovascular disease remains controversial. Data released over the past several years regarding statin efficacy and safety in men and women has been inconsistent, given that these studies had small sample sizes with numerous study limitations. A recent large scale meta-analysis of both primary and secondary statin prevention trials with sex-specific outcomes demonstrated a similar benefit in both men and women. Statins demonstrated a decrease in cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality in both sexes. In regards to statin safety, additional trials investigating the difference in adverse events of statins in men versus women, particularly new onset of diabetes, myalgias, and liver dysfunction, are warranted. Increased awareness and monitoring of female patients for myalgias and hyperglycemia should be considered as a precaution. Overall, women need to be better represented in prospective clinical trials powered to evaluate gender-specific differences in statin safety and efficacy in the management of cardiovascular disease.

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Correspondence to Roda Plakogiannis.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Statin Drugs

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Plakogiannis, R., Arif, S.A. Women Versus Men: Is There Equal Benefit and Safety from Statins?. Curr Atheroscler Rep 18, 6 (2016).

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  • HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors
  • Statins
  • Gender
  • Lipid profile
  • Cardiovascular disease