Choosing Wisely:

Don't routinely prescribe lipid-lowering medications in individuals with a limited life expectancy.

Rationale and Comments: There is no evidence that hypercholesterolemia, or low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol is an important risk factor for all-cause mortality, coronary heart disease mortality, or hospitalization for myocardial infarction or unstable angina in persons older than 70 years. In fact, studies show that elderly patients with the lowest cholesterol have the highest mortality after adjusting other risk factors. In addition, a less favorable risk-benefit ratio may be seen for patients older than 85, where benefits may be more diminished and risks from statin drugs more increased (cognitive impairment, falls, neuropathy and muscle damage).
Sponsoring Organizations:
  • American Medical Directors Association
  • Sources:
  • Expert consensus
  • Disciplines:
  • Geriatric Medicine
  • Cardiovascular
  • References: • Dalleur O, Spinewine A, Henrard S, Losseau C, Speybroeck N, Boland B. Inappropriate prescribing and related hospital admissions in frail older persons according to the STOPP and START criteria. Drugs Aging. 2012 Oct;29(10):829-37.
    • Schiattarella GG, Perrino C, Magliulo F, Ilardi F, Serino F, Trimarco V, Izzo R, Amato B, Terranova C, Cardin F, Militello C, Leosco D, Trimarco B, Esposito G. Statins and the elderly: recent evidence and current indications. Aging Clin Exp Res. 2012 Jun;24(3 Suppl):47-55.
    • Maraldi C, Lattanzio F, Onder G, Gallerani M, Bustacchini S, De Tommaso G, Volpato S. Variability in the prescription of cardiovascular medications in older patients: correlates and potential explanations. Drugs Aging. 2009 Dec;26 Suppl 1:41-51.
    • Schatz IJ, Masaki K, Yano K, Chen R, Rodriguez BL, Curb JD. Cholesterol and all-cause mortality in elderly people from the Honolulu Heart Program: a cohort study. Lancet. 2001 Aug 4;358(9279):351-5.
    • Weverling-Rijnsburger AW, Blauw GJ, Lagaay AM, Knook DL, Meinders AE, Westendorp RG. Total cholesterol and risk of mortality in the oldest old. Lancet. 1997 Oct 18;3 (9085):1119-23.
    • Krumholz HM, Seeman TE, Merrill SS, Mendes de Leon CF, Vaccarino V, Silverman DI, Tsukahara R, Ostfeld AM, Berkman LF. Lack of association between cholesterol and coronary heart disease mortality and morbidity and all-cause mortality in persons older than 70 years. JAMA. 1994 Nov 2;272(17):1335-40.

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