Statins are famous for its ability to effectively lower bad cholesterol LDL levels. High levels of LDL lead to the increased risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. However, statins are not for everyone. Cardiologists believe that statins should be given to patients with mild heart disease risks. Those with moderate to severe heart risks should not take statins.

How statins work

When taking statins, one can drop LDL cholesterol up to 35% to 50% or even more.

To many people’s surprise, cholesterol that circulates in the blood is made by the liver, not from the food consumed. And, the amount of cholesterol that the liver produces is determined by an enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase. Statins work by controlling the activity of HMG-CoA reductase.

Statins can also reduce the inflammation occurring in the arteries while stabilizing plaque that may have built up inside your arteries. Thus, they could reduce the chance of having a heart attack or stroke.

According to many cardiologists, though statins are a no-brainer for those who have already had a heart attack or stroke, they can help prevent the second one.

What are the side effects?

All drugs have side effects. In the case of statins, the most significant one is muscle pain. 5 to 20 percent of patients who take statins experience this side effect. For those who take high doses, the side effects are even more common. However, it is not clear whether the muscle pain is caused by statins or any other culprits. The solution is to opt for a different type of statin, consume lower dose and do not take the pills daily. Your doctor will provide you with the most proper plan.

In some rare cases, statins can result in serious muscle damage which can be fatal. This scenario happens if statins interact with other medicines. To stay safe, inform your doctor all the medications that you are taking, including supplements.

Another rare side effect is liver damage. The advice here is to have frequent checks on your liver and liver enzyme.

There are also cases of memory loss, confusion, and neuropathy. They only happen if you take very high doses.

There is a concern that statins can lead to increased risk for type 2 diabetes. However, it has not been proved.

Statins can interfere with other medications, such as immunosuppressants, some antibiotics, and antidepressants. Statins should not be consumed in combination with grapefruit juice as well.

What’s right for you?

Whether a patient should take statins or not depends on how he or she is affected by risks and how the drug can benefit him. However, specialists believe that people suffering from an established cardiovascular disease that involves plaque buildup in the arteries should be prescribed with statins, as long as he or she does not have a history of allergic reactions to the drug.  Above all, you should consult with your doctor for best advice.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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