Increased cholesterol levels are relatively common these days, given our dietary and lifestyle choices. Similarly, with increasing cholesterol levels, Statins have become one of the most common groups of medications. Statins can lower your cholesterol levels, and therefore, most healthcare professionals prescribe them as a regular medication. But amidst the medical world’s beliefs and varying opinions, the real question is: Are Statins right for you?
Come, let’s find out:
How Are Cholesterol Levels Recognized?
Cholesterol is a vital fatty substance found in all the cells of the body. This wax-like substance travels through the bloodstream in lipoproteins and is categorized as LDL (Low-density Lipoprotien) and HDL (High-density Lipoprotien) Cholesterol.
LDL is often referred to as bad cholesterol, whereas HDL is often referred to as good cholesterol. An excess of LDL in the bloodstream can increase the risk of heart disease, whereas excess HDL levels are associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
Statins are often prescribed to target LDL (Low-density Lipoprotein) Cholesterol, aka Bad Cholesterol. Statins are designed to lower the LDL levels in the bloodstream while having a modest effect on raising HDL levels.
Types of Statins
Amongst a range of Statins, here are some of the common ones:
- Atorvastatin (Lipitor). It is the most widely prescribed statin.
- Simavastatin (Zocor). It is available in various strengths and is commonly prescribed for lowering cholesterol and treating other cardiovascular conditions.
- Lovastatin (Altoprev, Mevacor). It is one of the earliest Statins and is available in both immediate-release and extended-release forms.
- Rosuvastatin (Crestor). It not only lowers the LDL but also aids in increasing HDL, limiting the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- Pravastatin (Pravachol). It is often prescribed with moderate cholesterol.
- Fluvastatin (Lescol). It is available in both immediate-release and extended-release form.
- Pitavastatin (Livalo). It is amongst the latest Statins and has fewer side effects than most currently available statins.
How Statins Work?
Statins inhibit an enzyme known as ‘HMG- CoA reductase’, thus helping in lowering the increased LDL levels. HMG- CoA reductase is the key enzyme present in the liver responsible for playing a crucial role in cholesterol production.
Our liver synthesizes cholesterol levels through a series of biochemical reactions, and the HMG- CoA reductase enzyme plays a vital role in this process. Statins play a crucial role in blocking this enzyme, reducing the ability of the liver to produce cholesterol. By lowering the production of cholesterol, the liver cells further increase the expression of LDL receptors on their surface, allowing the removal of LDL, aka Bad cholesterol, from the bloodstream. With the increased number of LDL receptors liver clears bad cholesterol faster while leaving a modest effect on increasing HDL cholesterol and reducing triglycerides.
Who might benefit from Statins?
Statins are commonly prescribed to individuals dealing with high cholesterol levels, particularly LDL cholesterol. It is also prescribed to those at higher risk of cardiovascular diseases. Here are some of the common conditions for which Statins may prove beneficial:
- For high cholesterol levels
- For those with a history of cardiovascular events
- For those with diabetes
- For those with Atherosclerosis
- For those with Familial Hypercholesterolemia
- For those with multiple cardiovascular risk factors
- For Post Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting Patients or those with Stent Placements
Potential Side Effects of Statins
Although Statins are well tolerated by those dealing with high cholesterol levels, some individuals may experience specific side effects as well. Some of the common side effects amongst those are mentioned below:
Most people do not experience side effects with Statins and even the one who does may notice them blurring with time. Severe side effects or the ones remaining for the long term are rare, but when in doubt, it is better to consult your healthcare professional soon.
Overall, Statins are acknowledged for their powerful effect on lowering LDL, aka Bad Cholesterol. This group of medicines shows improved results in patients with cholesterol and other cardiovascular conditions. However, depending upon one’s unique health profile, the benefits and side effects of Statins may differ. Whether Statins are suitable for you or not can only be concluded through the right evolution of your health profile, goals, and your doctor’s diagnosis.