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Lower Cholesterol, Cut Risk

Armen Hareyan's picture

New report shows benefits of cholesterol lowering statins for seniors

Cardiovascular Disease is the number one cause of death among Americans. While the true cost in human suffering and lives lost is incalculable, we do know that heart disease costs our healthcare system hundreds of millions of dollars every year. The good news is that heart disease is preventable. Advances in the development of life-saving medicines and treatments have enabled millions of Americans to manage their heart disease and improve their quality of life -- but only if they take them.

A new report from RetireSafe's Senior Center for Health and Security examines how statins can be an effective treatment for lowering cholesterol and cutting the overall risk of heart disease in America's seniors.

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High cholesterol is one of the leading causes of heart disease, and also one of the most treatable. More than 90 million Americans are estimated to have elevated blood cholesterol levels. While anyone can suffer from high cholesterol, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), seniors are at an unusually high risk. Poor diets, sedentary lifestyles, and a lower compliance rate for taking prescribed medication are all to blame.

According to the American Heart Association, American's over the age of 65 are at the highest risk of developing heart disease. At this age, initial heart attacks tend to be more fatal than those suffered at a younger age.

The first step to protecting yourself from heart disease is maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This can include a balanced diet, weight loss, exercise, smoking cessation, and limiting the amount of alcohol consumed. Often, lifestyle modification with diet and exercise is not enough. In that case, doctors may prescribe cholesterol-lowering medications, called statins.

Statins are a class of prescription drugs that lower the level of cholesterol in the blood by reducing the production of cholesterol by the liver. Combined with diet and exercise, statins are estimated to lower blood cholesterol levels by as much as 40 to 60 percent. Statins have not only been clinically-proven to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease, they have been linked to lowering the risk of dying from emphysema, chronic bronchitis, influenza, and pneumonia.

The report concludes that as we, an aging nation, stand at the edge of a retirement population numbering more than 70 million people, one of the biggest threats to every one of those older Americans is heart disease and stroke. Elevated cholesterol is a risk factor for both. For those who've changed their diet and exercised to no avail, they may be able to their lower cholesterol through statins. Patients, physicians, and all health care providers must determine the most effect treatment to lower cholesterol, not only for the good of most, if not all, aging Americans, but for the economic well-being of the nation as a whole.