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November 2, 1994

Cholesterol in the ElderlyIs It Important?

JAMA. 1994;272(17):1372-1374. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520170082041

There is a growing tendency to encourage measurement of and treatment for high blood cholesterol levels in elderly people. The 1993 adult treatment guidelines from the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) note an "enhanced recognition [since 1988] that... high-risk elderly patients who are otherwise in good health are candidates for cholesterol-lowering therapy."1 This policy shift is based on the belief that the association between blood cholesterol and coronary heart disease (CHD) persists after age 65 years and on a growing willingness to extrapolate to older people the reduced CHD rates observed in clinical trials of hypolipidemic treatment in middle-aged men.

See also p 1335.

In this issue of The Journal, the contention that an association between cholesterol and CHD persists in the elderly is called into question in a report by Krumholz et al.2 The report finds no association between blood cholesterol level and CHD incidence or death