Home / Health Tips / Should I Be Taking a Statin?: The Benefits of Cholesterol Medication

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While it’s true that diet and exercise are often your best defense in terms of lowering cholesterol, these steps may not be enough.  Sometimes, medications are needed as an additional supplement to aid in your efforts.  Unfortunately, many patients are quick to reject these prescriptions.

Many people worry about side effects of cholesterol medications.  The most common things that people worry about are liver and muscle problems.  Those side effects are actually much less common than you might think.  Liver problems are infrequent enough that the FDA no longer recommends routine monitoring of liver function while on statin medications.  While aching muscles can occur in 2-11% of patients on statins, less than 0.1% will have more serious muscle breakdown, called rhabdomyolysis.

Risk Factors

Some risk factors that indicate you may need to be on medication include:

  • heart disease
  • diabetes (types 1 and 2)
  • high blood pressure
  • stroke
  • smoking
  • a narrowing of the arteries in your arms, legs, or neck

The most recent guidelines on cholesterol treatment recommend that a person’s overall risk of cardiovascular disease be considered when making a decision on starting cholesterol medication.  Your doctor may use a risk calculator to determine your 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease and use this number to help make the decision.

The Positive Effects of Statins

Statins are usually taken once a day and have been proven to show significant improvements in patients’ health.  These medicines work to quickly reduce your LDL (bad cholesterol) while boosting HDL (good cholesterol).  Most people see an improvement in their cholesterol levels in just two to four weeks.  Beyond improving your cholesterol, statins also work to reduce the risk of strokes, heart attacks, and overall cardiovascular disease.

Of course, taking these prescriptions isn’t a reason to abandon dieting and exercise altogether.  This powerful trio may be just the push you need to begin seeing changes in your cholesterol levels and cardiovascular risk.

To have your cholesterol levels tested and find out if a statin is right for you, contact our office today!