There's no doubt that lowering your cholesterol can be a health benefit, but taking statins to do so may do more harm than good for older patients, according to recent studies. Most doctors agree that prescribing statins should be on an individual case-by-case basis, weighing the risk of heart disease against the known side effects caused by statins.

Those with high cholesterol and a history of cardiovascular disease may benefit from using statins to reduce their higher-than-average risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack. However, a recent report by the American Medical Directors Association (AMDA) questioned whether it was wise to prescribe statins to everyone over the age of 70, whether or not they have high cholesterol levels.

Currently there is no evidence to show that lowering cholesterol in those over the age of 70 lowers the death rate from cardiovascular disease or heart attack. However, there is evidence to show that statin side effects such as muscle weakness and mental fog can be a serious problem in the elderly. If you're looking to maintain a healthy blood pressure naturally, Natto BP Plus is a health supplement designed for cardiovascular health.

A recent medical paper published by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology on statins in older patients showed interesting results. The trials covered 25,000 people aged 65 and above who took statins but had no pre-existing heart disease. Analysis showed that seniors who took statins had 39% fewer heart attacks and 23% less strokes than those who did not, but overall this did not translate into a longer lifespan.

Common Side Effects of Statins

Statins such as Lipitor, Crestor, Zocor and other generic statins do not suit everyone. They cause gastrointestinal problems and diarrhea in some cases, and mental fog, memory loss and confusion in others. There is also the issue of liver toxicity for those who remain on statins for a long time. When the patient stopped taking statins, these symptoms went away.

More recently the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warnings about statins increasing the risk of Type 2 diabetes and causing muscle damage. A recent study also showed a 9% increase in the risk of cataracts for those on statins.

Studies also suggest that seniors are far more sensitive to drug side effects than younger generations. For many people the potential health problems and side effects of taking statins far outweigh the benefits, particularly in those with no history of heart disease. Statins may simply cause other equally serious health issues.

However, those older adults who have already had a stroke or heart attack may see significant benefits from taking cholesterol-lowering drugs. In these cases, the benefits outweigh the possible side effects.

How to Lower Cholesterol without Statins

There are many safe and natural ways to control cholesterol, without necessarily resorting to prescription drugs. Making lifestyle changes to maintain lower cholesterol levels through a healthy diet and exercise seems to be the healthier approach to old age.

Doctors recommend a diet high in vegetables and fruit and low in saturated fat, meat and full-fat dairy products. Adding oats, nuts and soy along with 2 grams of plant sterols daily can be beneficial in helping to lower cholesterol. You can also take supplements for cardiovascular health. Finally, regular exercise such as walking five times a week are all it takes for most people to lower cholesterol safely and naturally.