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Heart Health

Ask the doctors: Do I really need a statin?

Ask the doctor

Do I really need a statin?

Q. I am 71 years old, have chronic kidney failure, and am on dialysis.  I know my overall outlook is not good, and I wonder whether it is worth it to take a statin to control my cholesterol.

A. It's a good question. We have a tendency in medicine to prescribe statins whenever we see elevated cholesterol levels—even in people who might have conditions that make it less likely they will benefit from cholesterol reduction. That being said, the risk of cardiovascular complications is very high in people with kidney disease, and there are pretty good data that lowering cholesterol can reduce cardiac deaths and complications from atherosclerosis by about 20%. Side effect rates are so low that I think this medication is probably worthwhile for you.

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