Statins are the most widely prescribed drugs for lowering LDL cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease. Statins lower LDL by blocking the production of the enzyme that makes it. Statins may also block another enzyme called HMG CoA Reductase, which is important in making other fats. Statins reduce the production of these fats as well and have a secondary effect of lowering total cholesterol and triglycerides because they are not being made as much. There are several types of statin drugs. They all work in a similar way with different side effects and possible risks. The main difference is how quickly they become effective and how long they last before needing to be taken again. Some statins are not intended for daily use, but only when high LDL levels are indicated, like before or after surgery, during stress, or if there is a concern about side effects from the standard dose daily usage (50mg).
What are the benefits of statin drugs?
High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease but is not a disease in itself. Cholesterol levels can fluctuate daily due to diet, metabolism, and other factors. Statins are prescribed for those who are at risk for or who have heart disease. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is made by the liver and also comes from some foods. It is necessary for health. Some cholesterol is good, and some is not. Bad cholesterol is called LDL. There are two kinds of LDL, large and small. Small LDL is mostly benign and is required for proper functioning. Large LDL is what circulates in the bloodstream, clogs arteries, and causes heart disease if it goes up too high. Large LDL can be lowered with cholesterol-lowering medications like statins.
Side effects of statins
Statins are generally well tolerated, but they have some potentially serious side effects that are worth knowing about before starting a lifelong treatment. The most common side effect of statins is muscle aches and pains, which usually go away after a couple of weeks. This side effect can be minimized by starting with a low dose or changing to a different statin. A small percentage of people taking statins will develop a serious and painful side effect called myopathy, where the muscles in the body become very painful and weak. This can lead to kidney damage, paralysis, and death. It's very important to let your doctor know if you start to experience muscle aches and pains while on these medications. People who are at the highest risk for muscle problems are over 60 years old, have kidney disease, or exercise regularly.
How to determine if you should be on a statin
The first step in managing high cholesterol is to get your numbers. To do this, you can go to any lab and have a blood test done that gives you a breakdown of your cholesterol, triglycerides and other lipids. The standard rule of thumb is having a total cholesterol over 200, but a good rule of thumb is to aim for having a total cholesterol of less than 200. There are 2 main ways to get lower cholesterol. You can change your diet and increase your exercise, or you can take medication, like a statin. Before taking any medications, it's worth trying lifestyle changes first. If you don't get your cholesterol down to a healthy level, or at least get it closer to normal, then you should consider medication.
How to know you are on the right statin dose
If you are already on statins, you can monitor your cholesterol numbers to see if they are getting lower. If they aren't, you can try a higher dose or a different statin. If they are too low, you can take less or try a different statin. If you are new to statins, you should have your cholesterol checked a few times to make sure it's going down. You can also see if you are experiencing any side effects.
Which statins are best for lowering cholesterol?
Although there are several types of statins, some are thought to be better than others. Generally speaking, all statins are effective at lowering cholesterol, but some are considered to be safer than others. For example, people who are at the highest risk for muscle damage when taking a statin should try to get a doctor's recommendation for the type considered to be the safest.
Overall, statin drugs are extremely beneficial in the treatment of high cholesterol. They are very well tolerated and can help prevent heart disease in those who are at risk. They are also relatively inexpensive. However, it is very important to understand the risks and side effects of these medications so that they can be monitored and managed effectively.