Treatment of the Elderly with 3-Hydroxy-3-Methylglutaryl Coenzyme A Reductase Inhibitors: Focus on Drug Interactions
With the aging of the population, death from coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke has become more prevalent. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, such as hypertension, obesity, and diabetes mellitus increase with age as well. Recent secondary-prevention studies have established the positive effect of statins in decreasing the risk of CHD mortality through the lowering of cholesterol. Statins have an excellent safety record, at least with users under age 65, and provide a cheaper alternative to more costly medical options. The most serious side effect associated with their use is myopathy, which is infrequent. Drug interactions have been found with drugs that compete for the same CYP450 isoenzymes as statins. Several drugs have been shown to significantly inhibit the CYP3A4 pathway; in combination with statins such as lovastatin, simvastatin, atorvastatin, and cerivastatin, they have been shown to elevate serum concentrations of these statins, or may increase the risk of myopathy. Alternatively, other drugs can inhibit the CYP2C9 pathway and may elevate serum concentration of fluvastatin. Due to the number of medications the elderly receive, an understanding of the various metabolic pathways is of vital importance to minimize the potential for drug interactions. The elderly population, while at high risk for CVD, is currently undertreated. Statins can effectively lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and lessen the risk of CVD for this population.