MSIH Alumna, Dr. Ariela Orkaby published as lead author in Journal of American Medical Association

MSIH is filled with pride that alumna, Dr. Ariela Orkaby (class of 2010) is the lead author in an article published this month in JAMA – the Journal of the American Medical Association. Dr. Orkaby, currently a faculty member at Harvard Medical School, studied the use of statins in older adults.

Dr. Ariela Orkaby
Dr. Ariela Orkaby

After graduating MSIH, Ariela completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Boston Medical Center, a fellowship in Geriatrics at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and then earned a Masters of Public Health Degree at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Since 2016, she has been an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The Research

Study after study has shown that statins can prevent heart attacks, strokes and death in middle-aged adults. But in 28 major clinical trials of statins, only 2 percent of participants have been 75 years or older. This means that even though older adults are at greater risk of heart disease and death, there is scant data on whether statins should be prescribed for them.

Dr. Orkaby’s study sheds new light on the role statins may play for older adults who have not yet experienced a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular event. In her team’s retrospective analysis, they found that the risk of dying from any cause was lower by 25 percent among older people who were using statins compared to those who were not treated with the drugs.

“Statins are commonly studied and prescribed for middle-aged adults but understudied in people over age 75. One of the most remarkable things about our results is that we found the benefit of statins held true regardless of whether a person was older or younger or had a condition such as dementia,” Orkaby explained.

MSIH pride in its’ alumni

“I’m extremely proud that MSIH graduates continue to make an immense contribution to medicine,” said Prof. Alan Jotkowitz, director of the school. “Dr. Orkaby’s findings will help many older people to remain active and healthy for many years to come.

Although not directly related, I know that Ariela, like her MSIH peers, are on the front line of our current pandemic, helping their communities in these very difficult times. From Israel, we salute them for their hard work and dedication, and will continue to watch their amazing contribution to medicine.”