Author: Charles Frank

Statins: Types, uses, side effects, and alternatives

what is statin drugs

Muscle soreness is the main reason why people want to stop using statins. Studies have evaluated many therapies for resolving statin muscle aches, including vitamin D, and coenzyme Q10, but have not found compelling evidence that any of them are effective. Statins are prescription drugs you take as pills to lower cholesterol.

what is statin drugs

Too much cholesterol in the blood can cause a buildup of plaque on the walls of the arteries. That buildup can eventually cause the arteries to narrow or harden. Sudden blood clots in these narrowed arteries can cause a heart attack or stroke. More than 200 million people around the world take statin drugs for theirheart health. Shifting ideas about the risks and benefits of statins overthe years, however, have left some new patients confused about whetherthese drugs are right—or safe—for them. These medicines are for people who have an inherited condition that causes very high levels of LDL.

Why do I have high cholesterol if I eat healthy foods?

Even if your side effects are frustrating, don’t stop taking your statin medicine without talking to your health care professional first. Your care team may be able make a different treatment plan that can help you lower your cholesterol without uncomfortable side effects. There also has been evidence that statins may help with brain function — in people with dementia, for example.

Nocebo symptoms are real and bothersome and are a major barrier to treatment. Because of this, many people stop taking statins,[89] which have been proven in numerous large-scale RCTs to reduce heart attacks, stroke, and deaths[90] – as long as people continue to take them. The higher a person’s risk of having a heart attack or stroke, the stronger the benefit of the statin. In general, taking a statin can cut a person’s risk of a heart attack or stroke in half. Your healthcare provider will look at your individual situation when deciding if you should take a statin. Having diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol and using tobacco products are all risk factors for getting heart disease.

But if the drug helped lower your cholesterol, you’ll likely need to stay on it long term to keep your cholesterol down. If you make significant changes to your diet or lose a lot of weight, talk to your doctor about whether it might be possible to control your cholesterol without medication. Since their arrival on the market, statins have been among the most prescribed drugs in the U.S., with up to 56 million users. The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice.

  1. These medicines are for people who have an inherited condition that causes very high levels of LDL.
  2. Statins may also help to stabilize plaques in the arteries, making heart attacks less likely.
  3. Never stop taking a statin without talking to your doctor first.
  4. If you have high levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, you have a greater chance of heart disease, especially when there are other factors that increase your risk.

Statins also increase the number of LDL receptors on liver cells, which enhances the uptake and breakdown of LDL-cholesterol. Most of the effects of statins, including the blocking of the HMG-CoA reductase enzyme) occurs in the liver. Statins also carry warnings that memory loss, mental confusion, neuropathy, high blood sugar, and type 2 diabetes are possible side effects. It’s important to remember that statins may also interact with other medications you take. It’s good, for instance, to have high levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol. HDL cholesterol prevents plaque buildup in the arteries by transporting the bad (LDL) cholesterol out of the blood to the liver.

More than three decades of research have shown that statins are safe and effective. People who are pregnant or who have liver disease should not take statins. Sometimes, just changing what you eat and being more active can lower cholesterol. But if your cholesterol stays high, you may need a statin or other cholesterol-lowering medication. You may be wondering about side effects of statins, types of statins, how statins work, and what your doctor may prescribe instead of statins to help lower your cholesterol.

Because the degree of the benefit from a statin varies with your chances of having a heart attack or stroke, it is important to discuss your individual risks and preferences with your clinician. Together you can make a good decision for your healthiest future. Estimates are that in addition to the people already taking them, another 15 million to 20 million people should be taking statin drugs based on their risk factors for heart disease. Your doctor can do a simple blood test to determine the amount of cholesterol in your blood.

Health care professionals often prescribe statins for people with high cholesterol. Statins help lower total cholesterol and reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Serious muscle effects have been reported with statins, including rhabdomyolysis – this is the destruction of muscle cells.

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A buildup of cholesterol can make your arteries narrow and even block them. If a cholesterol plaque ruptures, a blood clot forms there and this can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Cholesterol also provokes inflammation in the arteries, which can contribute to the formation of artery-blocking clots. Some people have an interaction with another medicine while taking statins. Whenever your provider considers prescribing medication for you, it’s important to tell them what else you’re taking. That includes other prescription drugs, medicines you buy without a prescription, vitamins, herbs, supplements and recreational drugs.

what is statin drugs

Don’t stop taking your statin medicine before talking to your health care professional. Although liver problems are rare, your health care team may order a liver enzyme test before or shortly after you begin to take a statin. You won’t need any further liver enzyme tests unless you begin to have symptoms of trouble with your liver.

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Early on, plaque build-up can be controlled by healthy lifestyle choices, such as switching to a heart-healthy diet, exercising and not smoking. If those efforts are unsuccessful over time, doctors will introduce treatment with statins to benefit the arteries and prevent further damage. Although side effects believed to be caused by statins can be annoying, consider the benefits of taking a statin before you decide to stop taking your medicine. Remember that statins can lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke, and the risk of life-threatening side effects from statins is very low.

If you stop, your protection from the statin will wear off. The sterol response elements then facilitate increased transcription of various other proteins, most notably, LDL receptor. This results in a net effect of less LDL circulating in blood. Statins decrease your LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or bad cholesterol and may increase your HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or good cholesterol.

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Most people don’t have side effects from statins, but you shouldn’t take them if you’re pregnant, nursing or have certain types of liver disease. If you’re already at risk for diabetes, statins can add to your risk of getting it. There are many drugs that may interact with statins, so be sure your health care professional is aware of all the medicines you take before starting with statins.

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Side effects include gout (especially in those with a history of gout), mild worsening of creatinine (a measure of kidney function), and gallbladder inflammation (cholecystitis). It’s important to consider your medical reasons, personal values, lifestyle choices and any concerns when choosing a treatment. Talk to your doctor about your total risk of heart and blood vessel disease and personal preferences before making a decision about statin therapy.