Facts and Myths About Statin Therapy

Cholesterol is a waxy substance in your blood. It’s an essential element of healthy cells, but if cholesterol levels get too high, it can build up in your arteries.

About 93 million American adults have high cholesterol, and it’s a leading risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease. High cholesterol forces the heart to work harder to pump blood through the body, which can lead to increased wear and tear on the heart over time.

High cholesterol doesn’t have noticeable warning signs, but it can be detected in regular physical exams with bloodwork. Farhad Aduli, MD, FACC, and our team at Louisiana Heart and Vascular specialize in heart health, including diagnosing and treating high cholesterol.

Dr. Aduli typically starts treatment by recommending lifestyle changes, because eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise can improve cholesterol levels naturally. If lifestyle modifications aren’t enough, he may recommend statin therapy.

Statins are prescription medications to treat high cholesterol. They’re extremely common and effective, but there are still lots of myths around what they do and how they work.

Myth: Statins block all types of cholesterol in your body

Fact: Statin therapy can boost “good” cholesterol levels

There are two main types of cholesterol: LDL and HDL. LDL is the “bad” cholesterol. It’s the type that builds up inside your arteries if levels get too high. HDL is considered the “good” cholesterol, because it actually clears excess cholesterol from your blood.

Because statins are prescribed for high cholesterol, you might assume that the medication reduces all types of cholesterol, including the “good” kind, but this isn’t true.

Statin therapy blocks an enzyme that your liver needs to make cholesterol. It’s what makes the medication effective in lowering cholesterol, but it only decreases LDL levels.

Taking statins doesn’t lower HDL levels, and in some cases, it can even increase them. And higher HDL levels could further improve your health by removing excess LDL from your arteries.

Myth: Statins come with lots of negative side effects

Fact: The risk of developing side effects is actually fairly low

Statins are some of the most commonly prescribed medications, but there’s a lot of discussion around their side effects. A few of the most well-known side effects are muscle pain, mental fogginess, elevated blood sugar, and elevated liver enzymes.

However, the risk of actually experiencing side effects is fairly low. For example, the risk of developing muscle pain with statin therapy is 5% or less. And, while statin therapy can increase blood sugar levels, this will usually only increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes if you already have elevated blood sugar levels to begin with.

If you notice unusual changes in the way you feel after starting statin therapy, talk to Dr. Aduli. He can evaluate your symptoms and stop or change your medication as needed.

Myth: Statin therapy only treats high cholesterol

Fact: Statin therapy can also help treat those with heart issues

While statin therapy is one of the most common treatments for high cholesterol, Dr. Aduli may prescribe statins even if you don’t have high cholesterol levels. This is because statin therapy could lower your risk for suffering future cardiac events. You might benefit from statins if you have any of the following:

Starting statins if you have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, heart attack, or stroke could lower your risk over time. Every patient has different needs, so talk to Dr. Aduli to find out if it’s a good option for you.

Your best possible heart health starts with proactive care. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Louisiana Heart and Vascular today.

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