Harvard Health Letter

By the way, doctor: Should I take a statin?

Q. My cholesterol numbers are as follows: Total — 220; HDL — 82 (it's been anywhere from 75 to 85 for the last 20 years); LDL — 130; total-to-HDL ratio — 2.7. I'm 85, and the heart doctor wants to put me on a statin. I feel great; I'm not overweight, and I don't have any heart problems. I don't take any medications except a daily 81-mg baby aspirin. Do I need to take a statin?

A. If you've reached the age of 85 without any evidence of disease from atherosclerosis, I can't say I would be pushing a statin on you.

Just to be clear, I would recommend a prescription if you'd had a stroke or near-stroke, any evidence of coronary artery disease, or blockages in the arteries in your legs. But if you haven't, I'd urge restraint — and tell you to keep on doing what you've been doing. If you're 85, feeling great, and free of cardiovascular disease, you're way ahead of the game.

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