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Statins for Cholesterol

Statins for cholesterol overview

Statins, also known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, are effective cholesterol-lowering medications and increase clearance of low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Statin use decreases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other arterial diseases that are related to high cholesterol levels in the body. The majority of physicians and researchers support the use of statins but there are some investigators that suggest they may be "overused".

Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance found in the blood and in all cell membranes; it is also used to form some hormones. It is an integral part of a normal person's body. Cholesterol can be absorbed from food and also synthesized in the liver. High levels of cholesterol in the blood is referred to as hypercholesterolemia. Hypercholesterolemia is a major risk factor for cardiac, stroke, and other diseases because high levels of cholesterol in the blood cause cholesterol to be deposited in arteries, which then forms plaque, and eventually may participate in artery blockage.

Statins are not the only treatments used to lower cholesterol; for example, nicotinic acid, fibric acid, and cholesterol absorption inhibitors are prescribed to lower cholesterol levels.

In addition to medication, risk modifiers to lower cholesterol include the following:

  • a balanced diet low in cholesterol and saturated fat;
  • increased physical activity,
  • smoking cessation; and
  • weight loss.

Often, a health care practitioner may ask the patient to try to modify these risks factors for a few months before prescribing the statin medication to see the impact of lifestyle changes on cholesterol, triglyceride, and other levels. Statins do not replace making positive lifestyle changes to lower blood cholesterol levels; they work together in decreasing cholesterol levels and results are usually seen after 4-6 weeks of taking statins.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/15/2014

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Statins:

Statins for Cholesterol - Patient Experience

What statins were you prescribed to control your cholesterol? Please describe your experience.

Statins for Cholesterol - Side Effects

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Hypercholesterolemia, Familial »

Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is an autosomal dominant disorder that causes severe elevations in total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDLc).

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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