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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Questioning Statins for Older Patients

Limiting medication can reduce overall patient care costs. The efficacy of controlling cholesterol in the "very old" population is now being discussed. Today's post was shared from the

Should older adults take statins if they have elevated cholesterol but no evidence of heart disease? It’s a surprisingly controversial question, given the number of seniors taking statins.

Recently AMDA, a professional group representing physicians working in nursing homes, highlighted the issue in a list of five questionable medical tests and treatments. The list was drawn up as part of the national “Choosing Wisely” campaign, which alerts consumers to inappropriate or overused medical interventions, an effort that caregivers would do well to follow.

The standout item on the AMDA list: “Don’t routinely prescribe lipid-lowering medications in individuals with a limited life expectancy.” That means anyone older than 70, according to the medical society.

Dr. Hosam Kamel, an Arkansas geriatrician who is vice chair of AMDA’s clinical practice committee, said that there is scarce scientific evidence supporting the use of statins by 70- or 80-year-olds without pre-existing cardiovascular disease. Only a handful of studies have focused on outcomes (heart attacks, strokes, premature death) in this older population.

Most of the data on the benefits of statin use come from larger studies that looked at adults of varying ages. The results...
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