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Statins may Lower Risk of Heart Disease for Most Seniors: Study

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A study reveals that most American senior citizens will qualify for a form of treatment using statins to lower cholesterol, under newly developed guidelines designed for the reduction of the risk to strokes and heart attacks.

Statins are a group of drugs that lower the levels of cholesterol within the body by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, which plays a significant role in cholesterol production within the liver.

New guidelines released in late 2013 for blood cholesterol treatment by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology are focused on patients that will most likely find it beneficial to health if they take statins such as Crestor (rosuvastatin) and Zocor (simvastatin).

The new study, which was published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal, involved over 6,000 white and black Americans between the ages of 66 years old and 90 years old. The research discovered that 70 percent would be eligible to receive statin therapy. For those with ages 66 years old to 75 years old, 97 percent are eligible, and for the men, 100 percent are eligible.

"The guidelines are a significant change from prior guidelines that relied heavily on levels of bad cholesterol to determine who to treat," said Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation research cardiologist Michael Miedema.

According to Miedema, the new guidelines will focus statin therapy on the people that have the highest risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack, despite normal cholesterol levels.

The guidelines push forward a recommendation for statin therapy to individuals suffering from heart illnesses, diabetes or increased cholesterol levels. In addition, the guidelines recommend the therapy to individuals that may not have these conditions but have a 7.5 percent or higher risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack over the next decade, as computed using a risk calculator.

As per Miedema, the study confirms that senior citizens will normally cross the 7.5 percent criteria based solely on their age, despite normal levels of cholesterol in their system and no history of heart problems.

The new guidelines have no recommendation on whether to use statin therapy or not for those older than 75 years old. However, during the study, half of the participants were from that age group.

Miedema added that there is no conclusive information on the efficiency of statin therapy on the elderly, which is why there is no recommendation under the guidelines for patients over 75 years old. He said that there should be more research done on statin therapy and its interaction with senior citizens.

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