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What Are Statins and What Do They Do

by Rabiyya Khan
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What Are Statins and What Do They Do

Statins are a group of medications that help lower the level of excessive cholesterol in the body. This article is all about how they work, and the potential side effects. Let’s talk about them in detail.

So basically, what are statins?

Statins is the name given to a group of prescription medicines that reduce the cholesterol levels in the human body. If your lipid profile indicates the cholesterol level in your body to be high, your doctor might prescribe you statins to lower the cholesterol levels to prevent the risk of heart attack and stroke.

How do they work?

Statins help lower the cholesterol levels of the body via two-fold action.

  1. They block the action of the enzyme which helps in cholesterol synthesis, thereby hindering the production of new cholesterol.
  2. They help resorb the pre-existing excessive cholesterol in the body.

Who needs to take them?

Statins are usually prescribed to people with

  • Hypercholesterolemia (excessive blood cholesterol levels)
  • High risk of blood vessel diseases like heart attack and stroke

Do statins need to be taken lifelong?

Unfortunately, statins therapy goes a long way. Even if you don’t take statins lifelong, you need to take them for quite a long duration for the medication to effectively bring down the cholesterol levels. However, it is possible to come off statins therapy if you manage to lower the cholesterol levels with regular statins use and low-fat diet.

Do statins have any side effects?

Statins are usually well-tolerated by people. However, long term use of statins is associated with certain side effects including

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Body aches
  • Muscle and joint pain

The rather sinister side effects associated with statins include

  • Low platelet counts
  • Increased risk/worsening of type 2 diabetes
  • Muscle cell damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Liver damage
  • Memory disturbances
  • Drug interactions

How to take statins?

Statins are usually prescribed to be taken at night time since cholesterol production is the highest at night. Depending on dose and the type of medication, statins are usually prescribed to be taken after meals before going to bed. However, certain statins are best taken at morning. If deemed necessary by the physician, statins may be prescribed for twice daily use.

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