/publications/issue/2005/2005-12/2005-12-5071

Cholesterol Levels Decline in Older Population

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The introduction of statin drugs in the late 1980s has resulted in lower cholesterol levels in older Americans. A study, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (October 12, 2005), found that, between 1960 and 2002, average total cholesterol levels for men and women aged 20 to 74 fell from 222 mg/dL to 203 mg/dL. The drop was seen mostly in patients aged 50 years and up. In patients aged 60 to 74, a 12% decline (from 232 mg/dL to 204 mg/dL) was seen in men, and a 15% reduction (from 263 mg/dL to 223 mg/dL) was documented in women.

The researchers observed in the final decade of the study that the percentage of patients with high cholesterol—reaching 240 mg/dL—decreased from 20% to 17%. The decline was seen 8 years earlier than the government's goal of reaching the 17% mark by 2010. Simultaneously, the population of adults taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, mainly statins, rose from 3.4% to 9.3%. The higher rates were among the oldest individuals.