New research studies whether current triglyceride-level guidelines are apt for people aged 80 and older. The findings of the study are published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society.
Experts know that in adults younger than 65, having high cholesterol levels in your blood can raise your risk for heart attacks and strokes. However, in adults 80 years old and older, researchers have not until now thoroughly studied high cholesterol's impact on heart disease, your ability to function well, or your risk for death.
In fact, some research shows that a higher level of total cholesterol and a lower level of so-called "bad" cholesterol (also known as "low-density lipoprotein" or LDL cholesterol) might be helpful in protecting your ability to perform daily activities and preserving your life for longer.
"Triglycerides" are one type of blood fat that your body uses for energy. High levels of triglycerides can raise risks for heart disease in younger adults. However, we don't know as much about the risks to adults aged 80 and older, or whether high levels of triglycerides can affect their risks for disability or even death.
A team of researchers in China decided to learn more about whether current triglyceride-level guidelines make sense for people aged 80 and older. To do so, the team explored links between triglyceride levels and the ability to perform daily self-care activities, cognitive function (the ability to think and make decisions), and frailty (a condition associated with aging that increases the risks of poor health, falls, disability, and death. Signs of frailty include weakness, weight loss, and low activity levels.). Researchers also looked at whether triglyceride levels had an impact on death in a group of 930 Chinese adults aged 80 or older.
The researchers learned that for the oldest people in the study, having a higher triglyceride level was linked to a lower risk of cognitive decline, less of a reduction in the ability to perform daily tasks, less frailty, and lower risk for death.
The researchers said their results challenge current thinking that having high triglyceride levels is a risk factor for age-related chronic disorders and death. The researchers said their study suggested that, after the age of 80, taking medication to lower cholesterol may not have much or any benefit.