Dangers of lowering cholesterol in people over 60 years of age American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association cholesterol guidelines

Have you had your statin today?

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Have you had your statin today?

The most recent
guidelines for the treatment of cholesterol issued by the American College of Cardiology and
American Heart Association would
increase the number of individuals eligible for statin therapy by nearly 13
million people if fully implemented.
Most of the increase would occur in people between the ages of 60 and
75. According to the new guidelines 88 %
of men and 53 % of women in their sixties and seventies should be taking statin

The guidelines are a stark contradiction to the observed
effect of lowering cholesterol in older individuals.

One of the most closely studied groups of people in the
world lives in Framingham, Massachusetts, a western suburb of Boston. In 1948,
5209 of its citizens were recruited to take part in a long-term study to
identify the characteristics that predispose to cardiovascular disease. Study
participants, who were between the ages of 30 and 62 when first enrolled,
agreed to return for a comprehensive examination every two years. The study is
ongoing, and is entering its third generation of participants. A great deal of
data regarding the emergence of disease has been gathered over the past

The Framingham study has shown that while high cholesterol
levels are associated with an increased risk of heart disease prior to the age
of sixty, the correlation progressively weakens as people age. Even more significant
is the fact that once a person has reached the age of fifty, the risk of
premature death from non-cardiac causes progressively increases as cholesterol
levels decrease.

Researchers at Columbia University reported in February,
2005, that people over the age of 65 with the lowest cholesterol levels are
twice as likely to die each year as those with the highest cholesterol levels.
Their findings revealed that women generally have higher cholesterol levels
than men. This apparently has a great deal to do with their increased
longevity, as women whose cholesterol levels were similar to those of men did
not outlive the men in the study.

This even holds true in heart disease, for which
cholesterol-lowering is promoted as life-saving. A study published in the
Journal of the American Medical Association in 1990 found that people over the
age of 70 with low cholesterol levels were twice as likely to die of a heart
attack as their peers with high cholesterol levels. This information has been
ignored as nearly all men and one of every two women over the age of 70 are now
being told to take cholesterol-lowering medications.

If you would like to learn more about the folly of
cholesterol-lowering see my articles Cholesterol,
Low (Part 1)
and Cholesterol,
Low (Part 2)

 Dr. Dale