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Statins help your cholesterol

GEHA | September 2, 2021

Check with your doctor to see if statins might work for you.

Statins are drugs used to lower cholesterol. Your body needs some cholesterol to work properly. However, if you have too much cholesterol in your blood, it can stick to the walls of your arteries and narrow or even block them.

Statins interfere with the production of cholesterol in your liver. They lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels. This can slow the formation of plaque in your arteries. Lowering cholesterol isn't the only benefit associated with statins. These medications are also linked to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.

Statins are relatively safe for most people. They are not recommended for pregnant patients or those with active or chronic liver disease. They can also cause serious muscle problems or interact with other drugs. You may have fewer side effects with one statin drug than another.

Some of the statins available in the United States include:

  • Atorvastatin (Lipitor)
  • Lovastatin (Altoprev)
  • Pitavastatin (Livalo, Zypitamag)
  • Pravastatin (Pravachol)
  • Rosuvastatin (Crestor, Ezallor)
  • Simvastatin (Zocor)

Whether you need to be on a statin depends on your cholesterol levels and other risk factors for heart disease. Your doctor will consider your risk factors for heart attacks and strokes before prescribing a statin.

You may think that if your cholesterol goes down, you don't need a statin anymore. This may not be the case. If the drug helped lower your cholesterol, you will probably need to stay on it long term to keep your cholesterol down. If you stop taking the statin, your cholesterol levels will probably go back up. If you make significant changes to your diet or lose a lot of weight, talk to your doctor about whether it might be possible to control your cholesterol without medication.

“Statins.”, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, 27 April 2016.
“Statins: Are these cholesterol-lowering drugs right for you?”, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER), 22 July 2021.