Healthy Heart

Are Statins Right for Me?

Are Statins Right for Me?

Key Takeaways

  • Statins are used to lower an individual's cholesterol.
  • An individual should not stop taking statin's abruptly.
  • Statins have several side effects including but not limited to difficulty sleeping, muscle aches, and headaches.
  • Some serious side effects associated with statins include muscle inflammation, increased CPK levels, and rhabdomyolysis.

Statins are drugs prescribed by a doctor to lower cholesterol in the blood. Elevated amounts of cholesterol in blood may result in life-threatening conditions, like heart attacks and strokes.  This type of drug is normally prescribed based on cholesterol levels after a blood test. Statins inhibit the action of enzymes that are responsible for the production of cholesterol in our body. These drugs help to reduce the total cholesterol levels in our blood. They also help to prevent the formation of plaque in blood vessels, thus reducing the chances of a heart attack.

Statins are prescribed for people who have high levels of bad cholesterol (Low-density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol). LDL is responsible for the fatty deposits stored in blood vessels, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. A physician will decide if you need statins depending on your cholesterol levels and other risk factors that may increase the chances of any cardiovascular diseases. If high cholesterol is the only risk you have, statins may not be prescribed to you. However, if other risks relating to family history, sedentary lifestyles, diabetes, smoking, and obesity are present, a doctor may decide to prescribe statins.

An individual needs to be committed to taking this drug without fail, at the correct time and dose. If an individual suddenly stops his or her medication, it can increase cholesterol levels and the only way to lower these levels will be to follow very strict diets, in addition to making significant lifestyle changes.

In most cases, these drugs are highly tolerable; however, these drugs do have some side effects too. The most common side effects are:

Statins are associated with more serious side effects as well including:

  • Muscle inflammation – This risk is more common if the person takes statins with other medications, like fibrate.
  • Increased levels of CPK – Creatine kinase level increase may result in muscle weakness and pain, which can persist for a long period of time.
  • Rhabdomyolysis – This condition refers to muscle damage and inflammation, which can lead to kidney impairment.

One should immediately get medical attention if they have the following warning signs:

  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Weakness
  • Muscle tenderness

Statins should not be used by those who are pregnant or have chronic liver disease.