What are “statin” medications

What are “statin” medications, and why people stop taking them


“Statin” medications are used to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. They have become one of the most prescribed medications in the world. While very effective for most people, a recent study has shown that less than 10% of people take the medication as prescribed.

Before we look into this issue, let’s review some basics of statins.

FAQs for statins

Who can benefit from statins?

If you have a high level of “bad” cholesterol (the LDL type), or have had a previous heart attack or stroke, statin medication can lower the risk of further cardiovascular problems. Research shows at least a 20% lowered risk of a second heart attack, and a recent study showed an almost 50% decreased risk for those under optimal control from a statin.

Even if you have not had a heart attack, stroke or high LDL cholesterol, you may have a lowered risk of cardiovascular problems with statins. There is a set of criteria that doctors use to know if you would likely benefit. Especially if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, smoke, or a strong family history of heart disease, statin medication may significantly lower your future risks.

How do they work?

Do you know that most of the cholesterol in your blood is not from your diet, but is manufactured by your own liver? Statins work by decreasing the production of cholesterol by your liver.

What are the side effects?

The most common side effect, which occurs in 5 to 10% of people, is muscle pain, soreness, or weakness. This may disappear over time or with a different dose or type of statin (there are now 7 types of statins), but uncommonly people need to stop all statins to make this side effect go away. Rarer is liver problems, and statins should not be used by pregnant women. Statins may interact with other medications; ask your pharmacist or doctor.

Are there other benefits?

A huge number of research studies have been done, and many have suggested that there are other benefits besides the heart and blood vessels. Statins appear to lower the risk of certain cancers by 15%. Newer research suggests a lower risk of glaucoma and that they could benefit multiple sclerosis patients. More research is needed and being done on how statins might affect the risk of these and other diseases.

Why don’t most people take them properly?

High cholesterol (like high blood pressure) does not itself have symptoms, so many people prescribed statins don’t take them. People are more faithful taking drugs when they feel or see a difference. There is a lot on the internet that overexaggerates the risk of muscle side effects, and that scares away many people. These side effects can occur, but they are not so common.

What to ask your doctor

If you take or think you might benefit from statins, tell your doctor about any other medications you take. Ask if it better to take the statin at night or not. Discuss possible side effects. After starting a statin, you need to check your liver and cholesterol levels to see if the drug is working for you. If not, the type or dose may need to be changed. Of course, like with any medicine, there are risks with statins, but the potential benefits far outweigh the risks for most people.

To find a doctor, of any specialty, anywhere in Brazil, check out our website: www.ProcuraMed.com.

See also in ProcuraMed:

Lowering cholesterol may improve erections in some men

Statin medication to lower risk of heart attack

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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