If I am over age 75 and have high cholesterol, does taking a statin medication (e.g. atorvastatin, simvastatin) decrease my chance of dying?
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I have always thought prescribing cholesterol medications in patients over 75 years old was fraught with caveats–do the risks of taking statin medications outweigh the benefits? After all, statins do cause some side effects, specifically with liver, muscle, and blood sugar levels. However, despite all this, multiple lines of evidence point toward statin use in folks over age 75 benefit, although not as much as those in younger age groups, from decreased overall death, including heart attacks and strokes. For every point in LDL (part of the cholesterol profile) that is decreased, the risks of a heart attack or stroke go down by about 20-24%. As physicians, we all need to be very careful about treating each patient as a person and not a group. This is very important.
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