In the United States, (opens in a new tab), the most common type of heart disease. Heart disease is also the leading cause of death among most groups, making it particularly important to understand the risk factors and treatments.
Statins are one of the most common medications prescribed for people with coronary artery disease, but there is still debate about whether or not they are the best option for all patients. In this month's blog post, we'll take a look at the pros and cons of taking statins, as well as how to decide if they are right for you.
First, What Are Statins?
Statins are a type of prescription medication that can lower a person's LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. LDL cholesterol, also known as 'bad cholesterol' is the kind that can build up in your arteries and lead to restricted blood flow, , and heart disease.
Statins work by interfering when your liver is trying to make cholesterol. Your liver needs a specific enzyme to create cholesterol, but statins block that enzyme, thus limiting your body's cholesterol production. This in turn reduces blockages in your blood vessels, helping to reduce your risk of , peripheral arterial disease, and other heart-related conditions.
What Are The Benefits Of Statins?
The main benefit of taking statins is that they can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke by lowering your LDL cholesterol levels. That's why statin therapy is most often recommended for people with high blood cholesterol levels or those who have already had a heart attack or stroke. They are also prescribed to people who have or are at a high risk of developing .
What Are The Risks?
Unfortunately, some people do experience the side effects of statins. Far and away the most common side effect is muscle aching, called myalgias by doctors. About 10% of people will have muscle aching on statin medications. Rarely, statins might also cause increased blood sugar, type 2 diabetes, abnormal liver tests, and memory problems.
Certain statins may also adversely react to medications you're already on. That makes it particularly important to tell your doctor about any and all medications that you take. You might also want to ask your doctor if you need to avoid grapefruit or grapefruit juice, as some types of statins can interact with it and cause side effects (although this is rare).
What Does The Research Say?
One of the biggest myths around statin drugs is that we simply don't have enough research to know if they are effective. But the truth is that there has actually been an astounding amount of research done on the topic!
One most well-known of these studies is (opens in a new tab). This study followed a group of men who, at random, were prescribed a statin drug or a placebo to take daily for five years. The statin group experienced far fewer heart-related issues and hospitalizations, and even 20 years on, these results held. In other words, people who took a statin two decades ago are still seeing the benefits and reduced risk of heart disease today.
It's also worth noting that many placebo-controlled studies on statins found that even those in the placebo group experienced muscle aches. This is known as the '(opens in a new tab)t.' The nocebo effect describes a situation in which a person develops side effects from taking medication simply because they believe side effects may occur, rather than because of an actual reaction to the medication.
Another common myth about statins is that they may cause dementia. However, a (opens in a new tab) found that statins were actually associated with a lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
At HealthspanMD™, we focus on those ten essentials to help you protect your heart health and reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Our team of experienced professionals will target each one of those key areas with a personalized plan for healthy living that includes physical activity, nutrition guidance, lifestyle advice, and other modalities to reduce stress and improve your well-being.
So, Should I Take A Statin?
The first step in deciding whether or not to take a statin is to talk to an expert like . A doctor can work with you to help assess your risk factors, like your past medical history, family history, lifestyle, and other medical issues that could affect your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Your doctor can then recommend the appropriate course of action—which may include taking a statin.
At , we know that one-size-fits-all methods don't work when it comes to healthcare. Statins are right for some people, but not for others. Working with your doctor can help you make an informed decision and ensure that you're taking the best course of action for your health.
In addition to helping you make a decision about statins, our comprehensive approach can help you reduce your risk (and even reverse) some of the most common and deadly diseases, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, and more. Get started with us today and take the first step toward a healthier you.
Want to learn more? Ready to get started with the top weight loss doctor Phoenix, AZ has to offer? Schedule an appointment with HealthspanMD™ today, where health and care come together.