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Treatment of hypercholesterolaemia in older adults calls for a patient-centred approach
  1. Emma EF Kleipool1,
  2. Johannes AN Dorresteijn2,
  3. Yvo M Smulders1,
  4. Frank LJ Visseren2,
  5. Mike JL Peters1,
  6. Majon Muller1
  1. 1 Internal medicine, Amsterdam UMC, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  2. 2 Vascular medicine, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Emma EF Kleipool, Internal medicine, Amsterdam UMC, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam 1081 HV, The Netherlands; e.kleipool{at}


Due to an increasing number of older adults with (risk factors for) cardiovascular disease (CVD), the sum of older adults eligible for lipid-lowering drugs will increase. This has risen questions about benefits and harms of lipid-lowering therapy in older adults with a varying number of (cardiovascular) comorbidities and functional status. The heterogeneity in physical and functional health increases with age, leading to a much wider variety in cardiovascular risk and life expectancy than in younger adults. We suggest treatment decisions on hypercholesterolaemia in adults aged ≥75 years should shift from a strictly 10-year cardiovascular risk-driven approach to a patient-centred and lifetime benefit-based approach. With this, estimated 10-year risk of CVD should be placed into the perspective of life expectancy. Moreover, frailty and safety concerns must be taken into account for a risk–benefit discussion between clinician and patient. Based on the Dutch addendum ‘Cardiovascular Risk Management in (frail) older adults’, our approach offers more detailed information on when not to initiate or deprescribe therapy than standard guidelines. Instead of using traditional risk estimating tools which tend to overestimate risk of CVD in older adults, use a competing risk adjusted, older adults-specific risk score (available at By filling in a patient’s (cardiovascular) health profile (eg, cholesterol, renal function), the tool estimates risk of CVD and models the effect of medication in terms of absolute risk reduction for an individual patient. Using this tool can guide doctors and patients in making shared decisions on initiating, continuing or deprescribing lipid-lowering therapy.

  • lipid-lowering drugs
  • cardiovascular disease
  • older adults
  • frailty

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  • Contributors EEFK drafted the manuscript. All authors fully read, reviewed and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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