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Should You Take Statins in Your 80s?

Q. Is it a good idea for people in their 80s to take statins?

A. Only a few studies have looked specifically at the use of statins in people over 75, but the available evidence supports the use of statins to reduce the risk of heart attacks among people in this age group.

Statins are not without risk, however. According to a review of published studies that appeared in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology in 2016, older individuals need to be especially careful about taking statins because they’re more likely to be taking other types of medications—such as certain antibiotics and antifungals—that can interact with statins.

Other concerns with high-dose statin use include a small increase in the risk of increased blood sugar. Fortunately, older people don’t seem to be any more likely than younger people to develop statin-related muscle problems, which affect an estimated 1.5 to 5 percent of users.

Statins do not appear to increase the risk of dementia and may even reduce the risk, although rare reactions that lead to cognitive problems are possible.

All cardiac medications have a small risk of side effects in older adults. Be sure to check in with your doctor regularly if you’re taking them and report any possible side effects.

Read more about whether you should consider a statin alternative.

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