Harvard Health Letter

Ask the doctor: Do I really need a statin, and which kind should I take?

Q. I'm 71 and have no sign of heart disease, but my doctor thinks I should take a generic statin drug. Will I really benefit from a statin, and is a generic as good as the brand-name drug?

A. I can understand why you ask. You're probably thinking, like the old adage says: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" While I can't comment on your particular case, I can tell you why I advise a lot of patients in their 70s and without signs of heart disease to take a statin.

Even if you have no signs, you still could have heart disease. In fact, many people who have a heart attack never knew they had heart disease—until the heart attack. And statins can reduce the risk of heart attack, even in people your age.

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