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    Mayo Clinic Minute: Should older people take statins?

Medically reviewed by Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D., M.B.A.

Statins are medications designed to lower cholesterol to decrease your risk of cardiovascular issues, such as heart attacks. Recent research shows that people 75 and older who go off statins have an increased risk of hospitalization because of cardiovascular problems. Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, says that many older people who take statins should stay on them.

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"For years, there was this controversy whether or not older people will benefit from statins, but the controversy was mostly based on the fact that clinical trials did not include many older people," says Dr. Lopez-Jimenez.

He says there's a growing body of research that shows statins benefit this age group. And he says older people at risk of heart attack who take the medication should consider staying on it.

"Getting off the statins essentially puts people at risk for heart attacks because they lose the protection of what lowering the cholesterol gives or provides at that age," says Dr. Lopez-Jimenez.

Some people are leery of taking statins because of potential side effects, but Dr. Lopez-Jimenez notes that life-threatening side effects from statins are extremely rare. 

He recommends that older people talk to their health care providers about the risks and benefits of statins.

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