Statins are prescribed to lower cholesterol levels. They are known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors. Statins inhibit the enzyme in the liver that synthesizes cholesterol as well as LDL receptors. Statins are used to reduce cholesterol levels and prevent heart attacks and strokes. Recent studies show that statins can reduce recurrent strokes or heart attacks by about 40%.
Who Should Take Statins?
It is estimated there are about 20 million people who should be taking statin drugs. This is based on risk factors for heart diseases. Ask your doctor to do a simple blood test to determine the amount of cholesterol in your blood. If you have levels of LDL or bad cholesterol, you have a greater chance of heart attacks and disease.
Hope for high levels of good cholesterol or HDL. Good cholesterol thwarts plaque buildup and transports the bad cholesterol (LDL) out of your blood and into the liver. Once in the liver, LDL can be eliminated.
Statins work by blocking the action of the liver enzyme that is responsible for producing cholesterol. If you have too much cholesterol in your bloodstream you will have a buildup of plaque on the wall of your arteries. This buildup causes the arteries to narrow or harden. If you have blood clots in narrowed arteries you will have a heart attack or stroke.
Statins are designed to lower LDL cholesterol levels. They also lower triglycerides and raise the good cholesterol levels. Taking statins may also help stabilize plaque buildup in the arties. If you are taking statins you may have a reduced risk of a heart attack.
In attrition to taking statins you also need to follow the heart smart list put out by the American Heart Association.
- Get regular physical activity. Try and exercise, really exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Standing in front of the television and barely moving your feet is not exercise.
- Eat a balanced and heart healthy diet. Cut out the sodas and sweets. Try eating carrots and yummy celery or an apple.
- Limit your alcohol intake. This might not be fun, but it is healthy. It has been proven that a glass of red wine a day is good for your heart. Try not to drink any more than that one glass and avoid the weekend binging.
- Stop smoking. Not only is smoking unhealthy but it is very unattractive.
Side Effects of Statins
Most people prescribed statins tolerate them. However there are those who will have adverse side effects. Watch out if you have headaches, difficulty sleeping or flushing of your skin. Watch for muscles aches and tenderness. If you feel particularly drowsy or dizzy after taking statins, talk to your doctor. At times side effects can include nausea and vomiting, abdominal cramping and pain, bloating and gas or diarrhea or constipation. There have been reports of patients with strange rashes, high blood sugar, and memory confusion. Do note that statins can interact with your other medications.
Very serious side effects, that are also rare, include myositis or inflammation of the muscles. If you take cholesterol reducing fibrates and statins you may suffer the danger of muscle damage.
Raised levels of creatine kinases or CPK that is caused by statins, can be an issue. You may have muscle pain, inflammation and weakness. This condition takes a long time to resolve, but it is rare.
Rhabdomyolysis again relates to the muscles. It presents as extreme muscle inflammation and damage. Muscles all over your body become painful and weak. Damaged muscles release proteins into the blood stream that collects in the kidneys. Now the kidneys are damaged. This condition can lead to kidney failure. Do note that Rhabdomyolysis is very rare. It only happens in less than one in 10,000 people who are prescribed statins.
To lower cholesterol levels statins are the best medicines you can take. In addition to diet changes you can reduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes. If you are confused about what statin”s can do, talk to your doctor.
The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years.
Our team of health professionals, and researchers use peer reviewed studies as source elements in our articles.
Our high quality content has been featured in a number of leading websites, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, Live Strong, GQ, and many more.