What are they and how do they work? Statins repress the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase. This enzyme controls the rate that cholesterol produces itself in the body. These drugs can lower cholesterol from 20 to 60%. They slow the production while they increase the liver’s ability to withdraw LDL. Statins lower the LDL levels better than any other type of drug.
They can also produce a modest increase of HDL while decreasing total cholesterol and triglycerides. Positive results are usually seen after just 4 to 6 weeks of beginning the medication.
Overall statins are proven for lowering heart attack risks, strokes and other coronary diseases related to high cholesterol levels.
You should not take statins if:
You are allergic to statins themselves or their ingredients
You are pregnant or breastfeeding
You have liver disease
You consume excessive amounts of alcohol
Have a history of myopathy
Have renal failure
Brand names of statins that you might recognize are Lipitor, Lescol, Mevacor, Altocor, Pravahol, Zocor and Crestor.
There are some drug and/or food interactions that you should be aware of. More than one quart of grapefruit juice per day can decrease the ability of the liver to process some statins. More importantly there may be other medications that can interact and cause serious side effects. It’s important to let your doctor know about any other medication you are taking, whether prescription or non-prescription including vitamins, herbal supplements, medication for the immune system, other cholesterols drugs, medication for infections, birth control pills, medication for heart failure, HIV or AIDs, or Coumadin.
Side effects from statins are rare. If you experience muscle soreness, pain, weakness, vomiting, stomach pain, discolored urine, stop taking the medication and contact your doctor immediately.