Statin Drugs: What Are They And Are They Safe?



The most commonly used type of medications used as an answer to high cholesterol are called statin drugs. Because they are so popular, numerous studies have been performed to ensure the safety and validity of these drugs, and it has been found that not only do they lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels, but they also raise good cholesterol (HDL) levels in many cases. Statin drugs have little or no side effects associated with their long-term use, and taking them can reduce the risk of both heart attack and stroke. Consider talking to your doctor about the use of statin drugs if you have been diagnosed with poor cholesterol levels.

There are six statin drugs now on the market. Each of the major drug companies in the United States produces forms of these drugs, making them easy to get and use. Statin drugs you can take by prescription from you doctor are rosuvastatin, fluvastatin sodium, atorvastatin calcium, lovastatin, pravastatin sodium, and simvastatin. Common names for these types of drugs that you might recognize include Zocor, Lipitor, and Lescol. Your doctor can recommend the exact medication that is right for you. In general, rosuvastatin and atorvastatin calcium are used for intensely lowering cholesterol, and may be taking in conjunction with other medications. Pravastatin sodium is safest to use in small doses if you suffer from liver disease. It is also important to abstain from drinking alcohol as well. Atorvastatin calcium and fluvastatin sodium are especially useful if you have kidney problems. Lovastatin, simvastatin, and pravastatin sodium are all proven to help reduce the risk of heart attacks, with pravastatin also helping to reduce the risk of stokes.

Statins all work by blocking the enzyme in the liver that causes your body to produce cholesterol. If you have excess cholesterol in your body, this actively prevents you from making more. You should not need to take statins to maintain already healthy cholesterol levels-this can be controlled through diet and exercise. Statins may cause a rare but serious disease called rhabdomyolysis, which damages muscles, so you should only use these drugs if you need them and they are prescribed by a doctor. If you already take statins and experience muscle weakness, consult your doctor-this is the number one sign of rhabdomyolysis and may progress to kidney failure and cause untimely death. Overall, by keeping a close check on your own health, you can report any abnormalities to your doctor. Statin drugs are great tools to use if you need to lower your LDL cholesterol and raise your HDL cholesterol, but, as with most kinds of prescription drugs, they work best if you live a generally healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, no smoking, and plenty of exercise every day.


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