High cholesterol treatment: Necessary in older adults?

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High cholesterol treatment: Necessary in older adults?

Question

I've heard that high cholesterol levels aren't a concern after age 70. Is this true?

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Answer

This is a good question without a simple answer. The effects of high cholesterol in older adults and the possible benefits of its treatment have been controversial issues. Many studies have found that high cholesterol levels in the elderly pose a significant risk of death from heart attack or stroke. But some research suggests that lowering cholesterol levels in older adults may increase the risk of death. So what does this mean? National guidelines recommend that treatment of high cholesterol should be based your cardiovascular risk — not on your age. If you have high cholesterol but otherwise have a low risk of coronary artery disease, the use of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs isn't recommended unless your low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol is greater than 190 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).

Last Updated: 09/23/2005
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