Audrey Chun, MD: Recommendations on Statins, Connecting Dementia to Hearing Loss

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Chun spoke in this interview segment about more recommendations for internal medicine physicians to give older adults related to aging, dementia, and statin use.

In a second segment of her American College of Physicians (ACP) Internal Medicine Meeting interview, Audrey Chun, MD, spoke with HCPLive on the major points discussed in her presentation ‘Multiple Small Feedings of the Mind: Addiction Medicine, Geriatrics, Endocrinology.’

Chun serves as both a professor and as vice chair of outpatient clinical services at the division of geriatrics and Palliative Medicine in the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. After touching upon the topic of slowing patients’ aging through the use of exercise, Chun was asked about common questions asked of internists when discussing statin use for primary prevention in patients older than 80 years of age.

“I think especially as people get into their 80s and 90s, the question comes that ‘I've been on this medicine for 30 years but do I need it?’” Chun said. “We have some suggestions that if your life expectancy is limited, you're probably doing little harm in stopping the medication because you retain some of the benefits of the medicines for many years after stopping. But for others who may have many years ahead of them, for example if everyone in their family lives beyond 100 and they're 85 years old, they may be a person that you want to continue.”

Chun added that in a case such as this, a internal medicine physician might want to help such a patient prevent such issues as strokes or heart attacks.

“I think at one point, it was ‘everyone should be on it and be on it forever,’” she explained. “Now, we understand that there isn't necessarily a continued benefit.”

Chun also noted that there could be side effects that are really life-affecting such as muscle pain and weakness in older adults, perhaps making statins not worthwhile due to a lack of benefits counterbalancing the costs. Later, Chun touched on the topic of hearing loss and its surprising impacts on dementia.

“One of the things I think the internists may not be aware of is that when we look at the risk factors for developing dementia, about a third of them are potentially modifiable, meaning we could do something in our lifetime to lower our risk of developing dementia,” she said. “Some of them are pretty intuitive…About 9% of the modifiable risk related to dementia is actually related to hearing loss and that's something that people are not always aware of.”

To learn more about these subjects, view the full segment posted above. Check out more of HCPLive’s coverage here.

The quotes used in this article were edited for the purposes of clarity. Chun has no relationships with entities whose primary business is selling, re-selling, producing, marketing, or distributing healthcare products used by or on patients.