Statins are a class of medications that can help to lower LDL (lower density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Healthcare professionals often call LDL “bad” cholesterol because it can cause buildup in your arteries and block blood flow to your heart, brain, or extremities.
Statins are powerful drugs that have been available to consumers for more than 30 years. Combined with a healthy lifestyle, statins may help you live a longer, healthier life.
Patients at risk for heart disease often are prescribed statins. People who have type 2 diabetes (insulin resistance) also often have high cholesterol levels, so doctors can use statins to reduce their heightened heart attack and stroke risks. Other medications and protocols manage blood glucose.
Statins are generally safe with mild side effects
Healthcare providers will check your blood sugar and liver before prescribing the medication. When you begin a regimen of statins, mild side effects may include achy muscles, diarrhea, gas, heartburn and upset stomach. Increased doses may lead to high blood sugar, liver problems nd even memory loss. Talk to your doctor immediately if you experience side effects.
Statins cannot eliminate your risk of heart attack or stroke
No drug is a substitute for a healthy lifestyle of good nutrition and cardiovascular fitness. However, combined with healthy eating and regular exercise, your doctor can use statins as a tool to lower your LDL cholesterol to a manageable level.
Take statins as directed to achieve long-term success
If you have trouble understanding the instructions, talk to your doctor.
The following tips will also help:
- Make sure your statin supply does not run out. If needed, ask your pharmacist to set up an automatic refill and reminder call for you.
- Take the medicine at the same time every day (as instructed by your doctor)
- If needed, set personal reminders (on your computer, phone, bathroom mirror, etc.) to take your statins at the time your doctor specifies
Statins can lower LDL to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. The American College of Cardiology, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Heart Association all recommend people with diabetes speak with their healthcare provider about whether statins are a good option.