If you have high cholesterol, chances are your physician has prescribed or suggested using a statin drug. Statin use is considered the most powerful medication currently available to help tame high levels of cholesterol. High cholesterol can lead to heart attack and stroke so reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease is important.
Are You at Risk for a Heart Attack and Stroke?
There are many risk factors that can be used to assess your overall risk of heart attack and stroke:
- high blood pressure
- exercise habits
- family history
- current cardiovascular health
Additionally, your physician may require a cholesterol blood test
to see if you have elevated blood cholesterol levels.
The American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association have an assessment test that can predict your chances of having a heart attach in the next 10 years. If you are at risk, there are several guidelines
that focus on who would benefit most from statin therapy.
Four Groups of People Which Would Benefit from Statin Therapy
- Those people who have cardiovascular disease. This includes people who have a) had a heart attack, b) stroke, c) mini-strokes (transient ischemic attacks), d) arm or leg artery disease or e) surgery to open or replace coronary arteries.
- Those people who have very high LDL cholesterol. This includes people who have LDL cholesterol levels of 190 milligrams per deciliter or higher.
- Those people who have diabetes AND an LDL cholesterol of 70 mg/dl or higher.
- Those people with a 10 year risk of heart attack of 7.5 percent and LDL above 100 mg/dl.
Potential Side Effects of Statin Use
- Muscle Issues – If you are older, female or of Asian descent or have liver, kidney or muscle disease, or an under active thyroid, you may be at risk for muscle problems when using a statin.
- Increase in blood sugar levels that can lead to Type 2 diabetes.
- Elevated liver enzymes
It is important to discuss the benefits and risks with your physician. If you decide to take a statin, your physician may look for ways to reduce future side effect risk, such as recommending blood tests for deficiencies in Vitamin D
or Q10 and conducting a physical exam with additional blood testing as needed.
The easiest and most effective guidelines recommend a heart-healthy lifestyle for heart attack and stroke prevention. It is also helpful to minimize other risk factors such as high blood pressure. Lastly, add exercise to your healthy lifestyle and you will decrease your risk of all cardio vascular disease.
Take control of your health; test frequently to ensure your cholesterol levels are within normal range and discuss any abnormalities with your physician.
American Heart Association – cholesterol