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Understanding Statins and Cholesterol Medications

Jun 9, 2008
There are over 100 million American adults that should seek medical advice to lower their high blood cholesterol levels. Statins, a cholesterol lowering medication which have few side effects have helped to fight heart disease and lower cholesterol levels, even though Americans are actually getting fatter.

Don't worry; you are not out of luck. This article focuses on the actions you can take to lower your cholesterol levels and live a healthier life. After we quickly explain to you what cholesterol is we can then provide you with ways your physician can prescribe statin medications to help. Statins are not the only cholesterol reducing drug, but it is the one we will be discussing throughout this article.

Problems occur when there is an imbalance of cholesterol in your body. A waxy, fat resembling substance, cholesterol naturally manifests itself in cell walls and membranes everywhere in your body. One very important use of cholesterol is to produce many hormones that your body uses daily to live a normal life.

Your doctor may decide that you need help in controlling your cholesterol if you are not able to reduce it using natural treatments. Even if your doctor prescribes any of these medications, you must still follow through with healthy lifestyle treatments as well. There are several different types of medications used to lower cholesterol, but we will focus only on statins.

In order to know if you need these medications it is important you know both what statins are and also how they work to cut down your cholesterol levels in your body. HMG-CoA reductase is an enzyme in your body that is repressed by statins. This enzyme governs the rate cholesterol produces itself throughout your body. Anywhere from 20 to 60% is what statins are known to lower the body's cholesterol levels by. Statins are the only drug that can truly lower your body's Low Density Lipoprotein Levels (LDL). They do this by decreasing the production of cholesterol while at the same time increasing the liver's ability to retract the LDL.

While decreasing triglycerides and total cholesterol, statins can also create a moderate increase of High Density Lipoproteins (HDL). Within 4 to 6 weeks of starting the medications positive results are normally seen. Lowering heart attack risks, strokes, and other high cholesterol level related coronary diseases are what statins have been demonstrated to do.

It is not advised to take statins if any of the following pertain to you: allergies to statins themselves or their ingredients; you have a history of myopathy; you have renal failure; you consistently consume inordinate amounts of alcohol; you have liver disease; or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Consult your physician if you are unsure whether or not statin medications are right for you.

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.

If you are taking prescription drugs or even OTC drugs such as: herbal supplements; medications for infections, immune system, heart failure, HIV or AIDS; birth control pills; Coumadin; or other cholesterol reducing drugs make sure to inform your doctor prior to using statins.

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.
About the Author
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