Audrey Chun, MD: Practical Recommendations to Give Older Patients for Exercise, Cognitive Health


In this interview, Chun discussed recommendations for internal medicine physicians to give older adults for slowing aging as well as evidence for statins.

During this interview at the American College of Physicians (ACP) Internal Medicine Meeting, the HCPLive team spoke with Audrey Chun, MD, on the takeaways from her portion of the talk at ACP titled ‘Multiple Small Feedings of the Mind: Addiction Medicine, Geriatrics, Endocrinology.’

Chun, a professor and vice chair of outpatient clinical services at the division of geriatrics and Palliative Medicine in the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, spoke first on the topic of slowing the aging process through exercise and recommendations for internal medicine physicians to provide patients.

“This is a common question that our patients are asking us: ‘What can I do to stay healthy to age well to age successfully?’” she explained. “Really, there's not a simple answer to that…The number one intervention is not medication, it's not a special diet, it's exercise. And it's not always what people want to hear. But we know that regular exercise and regular physical activity absolutely affects the way that we age, and can prevent a lot of the things that happen more commonly with older age. Namely, preventing your risk of falls, preventing frailty and especially preventing cognitive decline or even dementia.”

Chun noted that regular physical activity helps cognitive decline more than socialization, though being around others in a social setting can be helpful.

“Interestingly, all forms of exercise have benefits in different areas,” Chun said. “So flexibility and balance might decrease your risk of falls. But if you're really worried about your cognition, and you're concerned about wanting to optimize your cognitive health, then it seems that regular strength exercises or resistance exercises, as well as aerobic exercises seems to be the most beneficial for your brain health.”

Chun was also asked about evidence for using statins for primary prevention, both continuing and starting new, in patients older than 80 years.

“These are for people who have no evidence of heart disease in the past, have never had a stroke, don't have diabetes, and the idea of starting cholesterol lowering medication in order to prevent those things from happening,” Chun said. “So that's what we're talking about with primary prevention, and we have a lot of evidence of benefit in younger adults, those younger than the age of 75. It's kind of a no-brainer, everyone who has high cholesterol should be on some sort of cholesterol lowering agent in order to decrease their risk of developing some of these conditions.”

Chun added, however, that over the age of 75, the data is less conclusive. She noted that either it does not exist, because researchers never included older adults in the trials, or the results were balanced by some side effects related to the medications, such as muscle pain or weakness or interactions with other medications.

For additional information on these topics, view the full interview segment posted above. Check out more of HCPLive’s conference coverage.

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

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