What Are Possible Statin Benefits?
Possible statin benefits include lowering a type of cholesterol known as low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. This type of cholesterol is also referred to as "bad" cholesterol. Other statin benefits include raising high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or "good" cholesterol. High levels of low-density lipoproteins elevate the risk of coronary artery disease and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Other statin benefits include the possible reduction in the incidence of heart attacks and stroke. Studies have shown that taking statin medications can even reduce death related to coronary artery disease. Patients at risk of coronary artery disease usually have a family history of stroke or heart attack, sedentary lifestyles, obesity, and high blood pressure. Smoking is an important, but modifiable, risk factor in the development of coronary artery disease and quitting smoking can dramatically reduce the risk of a heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure.
Statin benefits may also apply to arthritis, kidney disease, bone fractures, and dementia. Statins possess powerful anti-inflammatory properties that might contribute to the stability of the body's blood vessels and may even help improve immune function. It is becoming more common for the health care provider to inform his patient about statin benefits other than cholesterol-lowering effects.
Although statin medications are generally well tolerated by most people, side effects can occur. These side effects can be so troublesome that the person considers giving up therapy. Side effects of statin drugs include nausea, headaches, constipation, and dizziness. In addition, vivid dreams, diarrhea, and muscle pain can occur. Statin drugs can also damage the liver, and cause an elevation in liver enzymes. Although usually temporary, statin therapy can contribute to permanent liver damage.
Any one study should not influence a person's decision on whether to take statin medications. Although one particular study may claim to prove statin benefits of a certain type, another study may refute those same benefits. It is important for the individual to discuss statin drugs with his health care provider before beginning treatment. The health care provider can explain the risks and benefits of taking statins and recommend alternative treatments for lowering cholesterol.
Other non-medication methods of lowering total cholesterol levels include managing weight, consuming a low-fat diet, and getting plenty of exercise. In addition, eating more fiber and losing weight may also help reduce total cholesterol levels. Discontinuing statin drug therapy abruptly should not be considered unless discussed with the health care provider first.
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