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Understanding Cholesterol-Lowering Medications (cont.)

Statins: Examples and Use

What are some examples of statins prescribed?

Examples of statins approved in the U.S. include:

How do statins work?

Statins inhibit the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, which controls the rate of cholesterol production in the body. These drugs lower cholesterol levels from 20% to 60% by slowing the production of cholesterol and by increasing the liver's ability to remove the "bad" cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein or LDL) already in the blood. Statins lower LDL cholesterol levels more effectively than other types of drugs. They also modestly increase "good" cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein or HDL) and decrease total cholesterol and triglycerides.

Results are usually seen after four to six weeks of taking statins. Statins have been studied extensively and overall have been proven to decrease the risk of heart attack, stroke, death, and other coronary artery diseases that are related to high cholesterol levels.

Who should not use these statins?

You should not use statins if you fit any of the following situations:

Use: Statins come in tablet or capsule forms and are usually taken with the evening meal or at bedtime because the body makes more cholesterol at night than during the day.

Children: Some statins are also indicated for children aged 10-17 years of age with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (girls in this age range must have already begun menstruating). When used in combination with diet, statins reduce total cholesterol, LDL, and apo B levels in children with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia. After an adequate trial of diet therapy, statins may be considered for treatment in children if the following findings are present:

  • LDL-C remains greater than or equal to 190 mg/dL.
  • LDL-C remains greater than or equal to 160 mg/dL and one of the following exists:
    • A positive family history of premature cardiovascular disease
    • Two or more other cardiovascular disease risk factors in the pediatric patient
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/6/2015

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