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Senior Health: New Guidelines for Wider Use of Statins

As a leading provider of senior home care in Boca Raton, we strive to change the way the senior population ages. Today, we are doing that by sharing relevant information with family members and caregivers of seniors who might benefit from statin use under the new guidelines.

For over ten years, physicians have focused on a patient’s LDL cholesterol levels when deciding who could benefit from cholesterol-lowering statins. New guidelines are now encouraging doctors to take a broader look at each patient’s risk and consider their age, weight, gender, blood pressure, and whether they smoke. According to two major studies, these new guidelines are not only cost-effective, they may end up saving thousands of lives.

What Are the New Guidelines?

The new guidelines recommend that anyone aged 40 to 75 who has at least a 7.5 percent risk of having a stroke or heart attack within the next decade receive statin medication, regardless of their LDL levels. The guidelines also recommend statins for anyone with cardiovascular disease, adults who have high levels of LDL cholesterol, and diabetics between 40 and 75 years old.

It’s believed that the new guidelines will result in 12.8 million more people being treated with statins like Crestor and Lipitor.

What the Research Says

The updated guidelines were issued in 2013 but there’s been a great deal of controversy with many doctors saying it would put millions of people on the medication unnecessarily. The two studies that were published recently put those concerns to rest.

The first study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, examined about 2,400 people who did not take statins to determine who would be eligible to take the medication under the new guidelines. Next, researchers examined how often each group experienced a stroke or heart attack or died from cardiovascular problems. They found an equal rate, showing that the new guidelines wouldn’t put more people on the drug without cause.

The other study backed up the idea that the guidelines are cost-effective while looking at long-term benefits. Harvard researchers found that each quality-adjusted life-year gained had an “acceptable” cost of $37,000.

The Bottom Line

If you’re already on statins under the new guidelines, research suggests that staying on the drugs is the best. If you aren’t on statins or you haven’t been examined by a physician since the new recommendations, it’s important to find out if you may benefit from the cholesterol-lowering drugs.

For more information on promoting senior health and wellness, give Home Care Assistance a call at (561) 826.9282. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Program, we help seniors maintain a high-quality life through healthy eating, regular exercise, socialization, and supporting a sense of calm and purpose. Our Care Managers are available 24/7 to answer questions or just help you get to know us better.