Low cholesterol in elderly has bad implications

A forum to discuss cholesterol and the meaning of blood cholesterol levels.

Low cholesterol in elderly has bad implications

Postby spacedoc » Sat Oct 15, 2005 10:41 am


Researchers at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York report a low cholesterol count doubles the risk of death among the senior Americans. The report, published in the February 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, evaluated 2277 senior Americans, aged 65 to 98 years, 21% who were taking cholesterol-lowering drugs. It is widely believed that elevated blood cholesterol numbers are associated with health and blood vessel disease and mortality in middle-aged populations. Researchers examined whether this was true among senior adults. [Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 53, 219-226, 2005] Over a period of 3 years, lower total cholesterol and low-density cholesterol (LDL) was associated with a greater risk of dying. Use of statin cholesterol-lowering drugs seemed to lower this associated but did not abolish the elevated risk of death. Previous studies also confirm this newly published report. In 2001 researchers at the University of Hawaii (Manoa), reported that males 71-93 years of age enrolled in the Honolulu Heart Program with low levels of cholesterol persisting over 20 years had a higher risk of dying from all causes. Researchers then said: "We have been unable to explain our results. These data cast doubt on the scientific justification for lowering cholesterol to very low concentrations in elderly people." [Lancet 358: 351-55, 2001] The largest study conducted to date (ALLHAT) reveals that cholesterol-lowering drugs only lower mortality rates by insignificant 0.4% over and above usual medical care. [Journal American Medical Assn 288: 2998-3007, 2002] The widely reported benefits of cholesterol - lowering drugs appear to be apparent only when high-risk groups are included in studies. [Journal American Medical Assn 291:1864-70, 2004] The idea of lowering cholesterol among retirees, or healthy middle-aged adults, appears to be in question.
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Postby JL » Sun Jun 17, 2007 3:28 pm

I hate confusing reports like the one posted by spacedoc. First it says that lowering cholesterol is not good for the "elderly" but then it goes on to say that, "The widely reported benefits of cholesterol - lowering drugs appear to be apparent only when high-risk groups are included in studies." SOOO what is that supposed to mean? many "elderly " folks generally get the heart attacks and strokes. So does this article mean that once the elderly get a heart attack or stroke that all of a sudden they are supposed to benefit from statins even tho statins are no good for them in the first place???
WHAT KIND OF DOUBLE TALK IS THAT!!! Also, how much benefit is an elderly stroke and heart attack victim supposed to get from having to take statins? What are the absolute percentages of survival? 1%? what?
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Postby Ray Holder » Mon Jun 18, 2007 5:32 am

You must not confuse naturally low cholesterol with cholesterol lowered by statins, where any benefit is not due to the lowering of cholesterol, but is due to the other effects of the statin, some of which are helpful, and others the opposite.
It appears that only such factors as reducing inflammation and mimicking nitric oxide are helpful, but the damaging effects of Q10 etc reduction much outweigh the benefits. The alternative folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12 do not have these bad side effects. and do not drop cholesterol levels and so do not reduce the apparent longetivity aid of higher cholesterol in the elderly.
One of the main things to emphasise is to try to reduce stress to avoid heart and stroke episodes, by maintaining such things as happy social contact, see Malcolm Kendrick's "Cholesterol Con" book, develop some new interest, and try not to worry unnecessarily.

Ray Holder
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Postby JL » Mon Jun 18, 2007 6:19 pm

Hi Ray,
Thanks for your post but this is not about me and my health. Its about Spacedoc posting misleadind and confusing information for those out there who are reading it. Statins DO lower cholesterol but lowering cholesterol in the elderly is not good for them especially if it is done with the help of statins because the side effects of statins always outweights "ANY BENEFITS" from statins. This should be the bottom line rule REGARDLESS of whether an elderly person gets a stroke or a heart attack, okay??? YOU CAN"T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS as the article implies.
How can a drug be unsafe for the elderly and all of a sudden be safe for them once they suffer a heart attack or stroke??? The double talk is sickening with these so called "professionals."
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Postby SusieO » Tue Jun 19, 2007 7:22 am

I, for one, will refuse any type of cholesterol lowering drugs should I ever have a heart attack or a stroke. I would much rather live with the higher risks of further damage to my heart or even death vs. living in more pain and weakness than I do now.
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Postby JL » Sat Jun 23, 2007 3:38 pm

Good thinking Suzie. If I should ever get a cardiac event I am going to make sure to paste a sign on me telling the hospital not to give me any statins. As you can see, after all of this discussion, Spacedoc fails to come back to explain his contradictory article. Is this typical of MDs or what?
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Postby Biologist » Sat Jun 23, 2007 6:14 pm

The article makes sense to me and is consistent with my knowledge on the issue. I did not say it's simple, it's not. What Ray wrote to you is insightful. For more information to better understand some of the confusing nuances involved, several full books have been written.

Here's one:

"The Great Cholesterol Con: Why everything your've been told about cholesterol, diet and heart disease is wrong" by Anthony Colpo.

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