OBJECTIVE: To estimate the average postponement of death in statin trials.
SETTING: A systematic literature review of all statin trials that presented all-cause survival curves for treated and untreated.
INTERVENTION: Statin treatment compared to placebo.
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.