Do Statins Actually Work to Lower Cholesterol and Is it Worth the Risk?Jan 19, 2023
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Prof. Dr. Tai is the Chairman & President of the Brasil Academy of Anti-Aging & Regenerative Medicine (BARM), Institute of Bones, Joints & Muscle Pain, International Society of Obesity & Metabolic Dysfunction, American Academy of Anti-Aging Clinical Nutrition & International Society of Stem Cell & Genetics. Read more about Prof. Dr. Paul Ling Tai.
(We apologize for the ringing sound towards the end of the video but please watch to the end as Dr. Tai provides important supplement recommendations)
Statins are drugs that can lower your cholesterol. They work by blocking a substance your body needs to make cholesterol.
Lowering cholesterol isn't the only benefit associated with statins. These medications have also been linked to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. These drugs may help stabilize the plaques on blood vessel walls and reduce the risk of certain blood clots.
A number of statins are available for use in the United States. They include:
- Atorvastatin (Lipitor)
- Fluvastatin (Lescol XL)
- Lovastatin (Altoprev)
- Pitavastatin (Livalo, Zypitamag)
- Pravastatin (Pravachol)
- Rosuvastatin (Crestor, Ezallor)
- Simvastatin (Zocor)
Side effects of statins
Statins are tolerated well by most people, but they can have side effects. Some side effects go away as the body adjusts to the medication.
But tell your doctor about any unusual signs or symptoms you might have after starting statin therapy. Your doctor may want to decrease your dose or try a different statin. Never stop taking a statin without talking to your doctor first.
Commonly reported side effects of statins include:
- Muscle and joint aches
Statins can cause more-serious side effects such as:
- Increased blood sugar or type 2 diabetes. It's possible that your blood sugar (blood glucose) level may slightly increase when you take a statin, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. This is especially likely if your blood sugar is already high. However, the benefit of taking a statin may outweigh that risk. People with diabetes who take statins have much lower risks of heart attacks.
- Muscle cell damage. Very rarely, high-dose statin use can cause muscle cells to break down and release a protein called myoglobin into the bloodstream. This can lead to severe muscle pain and kidney damage.
- Liver damage. Occasionally, statin use causes an increase in liver enzymes. If the increase is mild, you can continue to take the drug. Low to moderate doses of statins don't appear to severely raise liver enzyme levels.
- Memory problems. Some people have reported memory loss and thinking problems after using statins. But a number of studies haven't been able to find any evidence to prove that statins actually cause these difficulties. Other studies suggest that statins may help prevent these issues.
Weighing the risks and benefits of statins
When thinking about whether you should take statins for high cholesterol, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I have other risk factors for heart and blood vessel disease?
- Am I willing and able to make lifestyle changes to improve my health?
- Am I concerned about taking a pill every day, perhaps for the rest of my life?
- Am I concerned about statins' side effects or interactions with other drugs?
It's important to consider your medical reasons, personal values, lifestyle choices and any concerns when choosing a treatment. Talk to your doctor about your total risk of heart and blood vessel disease and personal preferences before making a decision about statin therapy.
In today's BARM Health Talk, Dr. Tai examines:
- Is the risk of taking statins worth your health?
- Dr. Tai explains what happens when you have high cholesterol
- Fatty plaques in blood vessels that cause constriction
- What happens to your blood flow
- Why we need good blood flow for the brain and heart
- What steps you need to make to maintain good heart health
- What lifestyle changes you need to make
- Fatty Liver - what does it have to do with stroke
- Watch the liver
- Cholesterol is made in the liver so you have fatty liver
- Why losing weight is important and how it affects your heart
- What do statins do and how do they work
- How statins affect cholesterol in your liver
- Is the risk worth the benefit?
- What does the research say about the risks?
- Plant based supplements available through BARM to help control cholesterol levels naturally without side effects.
If you are interested in speaking with Dr. Tai about your heart health, cholesterol or stroke risks, schedule a free Telehealth Consultation with Dr. Tai now.
Source: Mayo Clinic Article on Statins: Are these Cholesterol lowering drugs right for you?