What do you think of Mom's physician's insistence that she take meds to reduce her cholesterol?

Mom is 81, only maintenance med is for inactive thyroid. Labs in August revealed chol level of 215, HDL 57, LDL 146. Prescription issued but I requested a 30 day retest. Another physician advised that no 81-yr-old should start a cholesterol medication - regardless.

Answers 1 to 10 of 14
I can certainly understand why her doctor wants to get her cholesterol numbers under better control. While some are very against using statins my research shows they can be helpful even in the very old. You really need to watch for side effects and understand the risk factors that might lead to problems in someone her age though. Are you able to try lifestyle changes to reduce her cholesterol? The mayo clinic lists 5... eat heart healthy, exercise, quit smoking,lose weight and limit alcohol. (there is much more detail on the website)
Read up on the side effects of Statins, or better yet, read one of the books (Statin nation, etc). As soon as I read those, and read side effects, and the fact that our bodies NEED cholesterol, especially our brains, I immediately stopped my mom's.
My Mom's doc recommended no statins for the elderly. Rationale: the possible benefits did not outweigh the potential side effects. I would agree with horselady21.
Be sure and read up on the statin drugs and not just info put out by the drug companies.
Top Answer
In your research on statins, be sure to also research the class action lawsuits against the manufacturers of them.

My mother was advised to take them, back before we were wise enough to research side effects. She did develop some of the side effects, but we didn't realize they could be related to statins, and so, didn't make the connection.

A few of my friends have taken them and stopped b/c of the side effects.

I'm very opinionated on this issue and would prefer to use natural remedies before taking drugs with such known side effects. I also firmly believe that genetics plays a large part. My father was told by one of his PCPs that his cholesterol levels were better than the doctor's own levels and my father eats anything he wants to, including KFC if he's in the mood.

If I had input into that decision, it would be, "No."
What do I think? That doctors would do their patients good if they did their own research on statins and other meds touted by the pharmaceutical industry. I think that if they stopped catering to the drug reps coming to their offices with freebees, and instead used that time to see patients at their appointment time, care would get better. I think that there is hardly any valid clinical evidence for the use of statins for the average elderly patient and just as much opposing research so much so that any thinking person would refuse these drugs just for the side effects alone. I would rather have the physician write in my medical record that I was non-compliant than take the latest fad drugs being super-hyped mostly by HMO protocols to save money rather than treat the patient as an individual.
Physician, first, do no harm!
I think that if the drug companies, and insurance companies who got together to change the terminology and the cholesterol levels that indicate how high cholesterol is determined, would get together and change the levels to the truth, less people would be said to have high cholesterol.
My husband was a subject in an international study concerning cholesterol. I don't know how long the study ran, but he was in it for 9 years.

Each time there was a gathering for families (annual picnic and a few other events) they would go over the risk factors for heart attacks:
1) Bad genes. Genetic factors were the #1 cause.
2) Smoking
3) Untreated high blood pressure
I think there was something else
5) high cholesterol

Personally, I think if you smoke and/or aren't willing to treat your high blood pressure, it makes no sense to worry about your cholesterol. If you don't treat the major causes, why bother with the lesser causes?

But assuming your mother doesn't smoke and doesn't have high blood pressure, then the issue of whether she should try to treat the cholesterol problem, and how, is controversial. You have talked to two doctors who have differing opinions. You will probably see those same two opinions repeated over and over on the forum.

Wait for the 30-day re-check. Ask each doctor to explain their recommendation (if you haven't heard it already). Do a little research. But ultimately Mom has to make a choice. I don't think there is an obvious right answer here.
Gerry, I wouldn't worry much about cholesterol with the numbers you gave. The new standards can be difficult for women to achieve. Their total cholesterol tends to run higher than men's. Back in the day we used to consider total cholesterol over 250 and LDL over 190 as high. I think these are sane numbers, particularly for older patients.

My mother had a total cholesterol of around 200 last year. Her doctor mentioned a statin and I said no to it. Maybe I was wrong, but my mother is 88 with some physical problems and cognitive deficits. Who knows? Maybe the extra cholesterol helped with her brain functioning. 200 did not seem high enough to me to worry about putting her on another medication. She took a statin for years. It was habitual and we decided to discontinue because her numbers looked okay. If her total went above 250 we would consider a statin, since my mother has hypertension. But 200 -- no, not high enough IMO.

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