Everything about Statins
You need to know Everything about Statins
If you’ve ever wondered about statins or if your doctor has suggested statins, consider the story of one of my patients.
Mrs. K., a 65-year-old woman and longtime smoker, began seeing me for weight loss. When we ran initial blood tests before starting treatment, we discovered she had very high cholesterol. When I went over lab results with Mrs. K. and suggested statins along with lifestyle changes, she said, “I already knew about my cholesterol and do not want to take statins because I have heard terrible things about those meds.” And she did not even want to talk about smoking.
A few months in to the treatment, she developed a transient episode chest pain. She had experienced an attack of angina, was seen in the ER and was prescribed statins along with other medications and life style changes. She also needed to undergo stress test and heart Cath later.
Many fear statin side effects
The above case is not an isolated incidence. Over the last few years since I started practicing weight loss medicine, I came across many people who need statins for their cholesterol but avoid taking them due to fear of the side effects. In the case of Mrs. K., however, she could have avoided her angina episode had she been taking statins. (By then we had started her on treatment for smoking and she is currently not classified as a smoker.)
In truth, the benefits of statins for people who meet the criteria far outweigh the risks, and it is important to take them when your physician recommends it to you.
What are statins?
Statins are a group of drugs which act by inhibiting the activity of an enzyme in the liver that makes cholesterol, a waxy substance that is found in the blood, and can collect on the walls of blood vessels, slowing blood flow and causing events such as Mrs. K.’s mini stroke.
Based on studies, statins have a wealth of benefits, however, including:
- Lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- A decreased incidence of coronary heart disease and stroke.
- A decreased incidence of heart failure
- A reduced risk of certain types of glaucoma.
- A reduced incidence of colorectal cancer in certain individuals, according to a 2014 study from the UK.
- A reduced incidence of coronary artery disease in those with rheumatoid arthritis, according to 2017 research. Rheumatoid arthritis elevates the risk of coronary artery disease because the disease causes widespread inflammation that also impacts the arteries and heart.
- A decreased incidence of prostate cancer in patients taking statins, according to 2008 research.
- Some early research suggests a decreased risk of breast cancer.
Who should be on statins?
There are a many people who can benefit from statins, include:
- Those with atherosclerotic heart disease
- Those with a history of angina
- Most people with DM Type 2, even without previous heart disease.
- Anyone who has had a stroke or a transient ischemic attack that could have been the result of atherosclerotic heart diseases.
- Those with a history of peripheral vascular disease.
- Those with a history of aortic aneurysm.
- Anyone with LDL (bad cholesterol) more than 190 even with out any heart disease or DM.
Am I right candidate for statins?
- It is very difficult to answer that question as this is individual medical advice. Before starting statins, many factors need to be considered. Please talk to your physician about them. Please let them also know about any supplements you are taking as some supplements make statin side effects more common.
There are a variety of different statins that might be suggested to patients based on their needs–
Atorvastatin and Rosuvastatin are high-intensity statins at high doses, and moderate intensity statins at lower doses.
Simvastatin and Pravastatin are moderate to low-intensity statins depending on the dose.
Lovastatin and Fluvastatin are low-intensity statins.
Side effects of statins
Statins have many common misperceptions about statins—but incidence of serious side effects is extremely low while benefit of taking them is very high.
- including an elevated risk of myopathy, which only occurs in about 1 in 10,000 cases and only at the highest doses.
- Every muscle is ache is not myopathy.
- If developing muscle aches stop statins and talk to your doctor. There are many ways to continue statins while working around to avoid muscle aches.
- A slight increase in cases of type 2 diabetes- only in one study for just two years.
- An increased risk in elevated liver enzymes that leads to liver disease in about 1 in 100,000 cases. Every elevated liver enzyme is not liver disease.
Statins are not linked to
- Parkinson’s disease,
- cataracts, insomnia,
- ruptured tendons,
- neuropathy or
- cognitive dysfunction.
** Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. Please talk to your physician before making any medication changes.