Statins are prescribed medications given to people who have uncontrollably high levels of blood cholesterol. Doctors usually prescribe this type of drug to help prevent and reduce the chances of acquiring life threatening conditions such as heart disease and stroke.
Statin or HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors are a type of medication specifically designed to lower cholesterol. As the medical term dictates, it inhibits the production of HMG-CoA reductase, which is a big contributor on the production of cholesterol in the liver.
Research shows that people who are taking statin drugs reduce their risk of having a heart attack by about 25% to 35%. Knowing these percentages can bring relief to those people who are stuck taking this meds, but how does this drug actually work?
This drug works by inhibiting the action of a particular enzyme (HMG-CoA reductase) that is responsible for building cholesterol in the liver. Thus, statins aids in lowering the bad cholesterol (LDL), helps in raising your HDL or good cholesterol, and balances your total cholesterol count.
Ideally, this drug alone can not guarantee that you will have a significant change in your cholesterol level, but with the help of a heart-healthy diet, increased amount of exercise, smoking cessation and living a healthy lifestyle, you can see a huge drop in your total cholesterol level.
Possible Drug Side Effects
Although there are many people who can tolerate statins, there are others who develop or experience adverse effects. Below is a list of the possible side effects that you need to watch out for when taking statins.
Liver Injury – Liver plays an important role in synthesizing enzymes, the digestion of lipids and drug metabolism. Statins are believed to be safe for long-term use but there are some minimal cases cases of liver injury because of this medicine.
Muscle Symptoms – Muscle weakness, pain and muscle tendency are common side effects of statins. These symptoms can lead to actual muscle damage known as Myopathy that is pretty serious. If any signs of muscle symptoms occur while taking this drug, consult your physician immediately.
Other common side effects are as follows:
- Rashes and flushing of the skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle aches
- Stomach upset
Precautions and Warnings
- Please be reminded that statins can potentially interact with a wide array of medications. You should always tell your doctor all the medicines and supplements you're taking to avoid potential harmful drug interaction.
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid this type of drug. Ask your doctor whether you should discontinue the meds or stop nursing.
- Alcohol may affect the effects of statin drugs. Discuss this issue frankly with your physician.