Statins are a group of medicines that work to lower your cholesterol. According to the American Heart Association, statins are able to lower cholesterol by blocking a substance your body needs to make cholesterol. Statins may also help your body reabsorb the cholesterol in your arteries, which could be causing blockages. Statins also help lower triglycerides (blood fats) and raise your good cholesterol (HDL) levels.1 By doing this, the lower cholesterol levels may prevent heart disease or strokes.2
Some common names of statins are atorvastatin, simvastatin, rosuvastatin, pravastatin, lovastatin.
Know your risks
You don't want your first sign of heart disease to be a heart attack. That's why it's so important to know what your risk of heart disease may be—heart disease is the leading cause of death in this country for both men and women.3
Risk factors for heart attack and stroke:4
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Physical inactivity
- Poor diet
Answer the following questions to learn more about your risk for a heart attack.
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It’s important to talk to your doctor about your heart health and other risk factors. We’ve put together this statin checklist, PDF to bring to your next doctor appointment.
Statins can be prescribed for people who have high cholesterol, but they can also help people who don't have high cholesterol. If you've had a heart attack or stroke, or have diabetes, you are at a higher risk for future heart attacks or strokes. Statins can help reduce the risk of having a heart attack or stroke even if you do not have high cholesterol.5
Muscle and liver problems are rare but possible side effects of a statin.6 There are tests your doctor can perform to monitor muscle and liver function. Side effects can be managed. Always talk to your dotor if you experience any side effects or unusual symptoms while taking a statin.
Your doctor may be able to switch you to another statin with a lower risk of side effects.
Some statin medications can interact with food, drink and other medications. Make sure your doctor knows all of the prescription and non-prescription medications you take and talk with them about possible food-related interations. Below are some common drug and food interactions with statins.7
- Amlodipine and diltiazem
- Antibiotics (such as erythromycin)
- Antifungals (such as ketoconazole)
- Grapefruit and grapefruit juice