How Do I Choose the Best Statin Alternative?

A. Pasbjerg
A. Pasbjerg
Psyllium husk, a possible statin alternative.
Psyllium husk, a possible statin alternative.

For patients trying to decrease cholesterol levels and avoid heart disease, drugs called statins are often prescribed, but there are alternatives that can also be effective and choosing the best one can depend on several factors. Talk to your doctor to see if diet and lifestyle changes may be enough to lower your cholesterol to safe levels. If statins cause you to have unwanted side effects, other types of drugs can be used that have the same cholesterol-lowering effects. You may prefer to avoid medication altogether if possible, in which case there are a number of alternative supplements you can try. The most important thing to consider when choosing a statin alternative, however, is which type of treatment works best for you and will keep your heart healthy.

Statins.
Statins.

If your cholesterol is not too high, basic diet and lifestyle changes may be a viable statin alternative. Eat plenty of healthy foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and nuts, while avoiding those high in saturated fat, trans fats, and cholesterol. Exercise frequently, and try to lose any extra weight you may be carrying. Avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol.

Drugs may still be needed if lifestyle changes do not lower your cholesterol enough, but there are several other types of drugs you can try if statins are not working or causing you negative side effects. Bile acid sequestrants, cholesterol absorption inhibitors, and fibrates can all be used to lower cholesterol levels. Niacin, a B vitamin that is often taken as a supplement, may also work when taken at higher doses. Since each of these drugs works in a different way to lower cholesterol, you should talk to your doctor about your specific case to determine which one will be the best statin alternative for you.

You may wish to avoid taking drugs but still need help in addition to diet and lifestyle alterations, and alternative supplements may be a good choice. One type of supplement that has shown promise as a statin alternative is red yeast rice extract. Psyllium, soy protein isolate, and omega-3 fish oil have all been shown to decrease low-density lipoprotein levels as well. Other possible options that are thought to help decrease cholesterol levels include pantethine and policosanol. Be sure to talk to your doctor before choosing a supplement for treatment, however, to ensure that it is safe for you; also make sure to find out the correct dose and get your supplement from a reputable supplier.

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    • Psyllium husk, a possible statin alternative.
      Psyllium husk, a possible statin alternative.
    • Statins.
      Statins.