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Statin Medications - Pros and Cons

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

statin-medications-pros-and-cons

Overview of Statins

The American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association have released new guidelines for treating patients with cholesterol lowering drugs (statins) due to the continued rise of heart disease in the United States. Statins are given to help prevent heart attacks and strokes. Coronary heart disease (CHD) numbers have steadily increased over the past several years in many countries.

When we take a look at other countries around the world it appears that most countries are seeing an increase in heart disease. For example:

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in India.

One in four people in Pakistan die from heart disease.

Cardiovascular disease is killing four million people each year in Europe.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics states myocardial infarctions (heart attacks) is the leading cause of death.

It is the leading cause of death in Nigeria.

statin-medications-pros-and-cons

Cholesterol Blood Test

Cholesterol levels tend to increase with age. Ideally your total cholesterol will be less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), and your LDL will be less than 100.

Your cholesterol is measured in three categories, which include:

Total Cholesterol - a cholesterol between 200 and 239 mg/dL is considered borderline high and a reading of 240 mg/dL and above is considered high

LDL (bad cholesterol) - levels between 100-129 mg/dL are acceptable if you do not have heart disease, a reading from 130 to 159 mg/dL is considered borderline high, 160 to 189 is high, and over 190 is very high.

HDL (good cholesterol) - ideally your reading is 60 mg/dL, 41-59 mg/dL is borderline low and a reading less than 40 mg/dL is considered a major risk factor for heart disease.

Under the new guidelines statin medications will only be given to the following people:

People with existing heart disease

People with an LDL level of 190 mg/dL or higher

People with type 2 diabetes who are between 40 and 75 years of age

People who have a 10-year risk of heart disease who are between 40 and 75 years of age that have a 7.5 percent or higher risk of heart disease

According to JAMA Internal Medicine, 97.1% of those over 75 years of age should receive a statin medication.

Statins and Cholesterol

Statin Medications

There are 7 types of statin-category drugs available in the United States and they include:

  1. Atorvastatin (Lipitor)
  2. Fluvastatin (Lescol)
  3. Lovastatin (Altoprev)
  4. Pravastatin (Pravachol)
  5. Rosuvastatin (Crestor, Ezalor)
  6. Simvastatin (Zocor, FloLipid)
  7. Pitavastatin (Livalo)

Most of these statins medications are available in other countries around the world.

There are differences between these medications. Rosuvastatin (Crestor) and atorvastatin (Lipor) are the most potent. Fluvastatin (Lescol) is the least potent. A total of 135 studies were completed, which included 250,000 people combined, and they found that simvastatin (Zocor) and pravastatin (Pravachol) had the fewest side effects.

The statin drugs work by blocking a substance your liver needs to make cholesterol, so statins cause your liver to remove cholesterol from your blood.

According to Mayo Clinic, most statins are well-tolerated, but there can be problems with muscle pain, digestive problems and mental fuzziness in some people. Very rarely they can cause liver damage. Muscle pain is the more common side effect, but only 5% of people have this problem. This may feel like a soreness, weakness or tiredness in your muscles.

The muscle pain can be mild or severe enough to make activities of daily living difficult. Occasionally your liver enzymes may be slightly elevated, so your doctor will change your medication or reduce the dosage.

If you have any type of side effect make an appointment with your doctor, so he can change your medication or lower the dosage.

statin-medications-pros-and-cons

Prevent Heart Disease

Many of the factors causing heart disease can be modified. These factors include:

  • Quit smoking
  • Treat high blood pressure
  • Be physically active
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Lose weight if you are obese

Statins, Cholesterol and Atherosclerosis

Final Thoughts

I take simvastatin as I had 2 stents put in my heart about 9 years ago. However, I have never had any chest discomfort. The doctors think I had the blockage due to receiving cortisone for systemic lupus as I had no other disease. I have not had any problem with the medication.

I have a friend who has been on one of the stronger statins, and she has had muscle problems. They are changing her medication to one of the other statins.

The best thing all of us can do is to keep a healthy weight by eating healthy, and just adopting healthy habits.

References

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2021 Pamela Oglesby

Comments

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 20, 2021:

Hi Vidya,

I have been taking one for 9 years and have no side effects. Your husband may be on one that has less side effect. I hope he stays healthy.

I appreciate your comments, as always.

Blessings.

VIDYA D SAGAR on June 20, 2021:

A very informative article Pamela. I dint know about the side effects of statins. My husband had been taking it from many years but never mentioned any side effects. I guess he is lucky. Yes a healthy diet and a healthy life style are the best options for good heart health. Thanks for sharing.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 20, 2021:

Hi Peggy,

It sounds like you have a healthy family. I hope so. I appreciate your comments. Have a good week!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 20, 2021:

Thanks for writing another informative medical article regarding statin medications. As far as I know, no one in our family has had to take these medications. But it is always good to stay informed.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 20, 2021:

Hi Adrienne,

That information about coenzyme Q10 is good to know. I didn't find that in may research.

Thank you so much for your comments,.

Adrienne Farricelli on June 20, 2021:

Thanks for sharing all pros and cons of statins. A relative of mine is on statins, and she was put on COQ10 since statins have been found to reduce the amount of naturally occurring coenzyme Q10 in the body.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 19, 2021:

Hi Denise,

I have taken simvastatin for about 8 years, and had no problems. It is one of the statins with the least side effect, so I don't know if your muscle pain is relate to that or something else. I think it would be a good idea to ask your doctor as he knows everything about your health.

Thank you for reading and commenting.

Blessings.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on June 19, 2021:

I have taken simvastatin for a decade now and my cholesterol numbers are finally in the normal range. But I have recently started having muscle pain in my right arm, the one I use the most. I never thought it could be the medication causing it. I had thought it was related to overuse or sleeping wrong. Since it is pretty constant I will have to bring it up with my doctor. Thanks for all the information. I've taken it for years and didn't bother to research what I was taking or what possible side effects it could have.

Blessings,

Denise

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 19, 2021:

Hi Brenda,

Lupus is an odd disease as you can go into remission, then get really sick again. The other problem is there are few drugs that treat it very well. I have many health problems due to the drugs I was given throughout the years.

Have a good weekend!

Thank you for reading and commenting, Brenda. I hope you had a nice time on your vacation.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on June 18, 2021:

Pamela

I'm familiar with Crestor or the generic of it...Ron is on it.

I had a friend who had lupus.

That's the one disease that can cause so many other things to happen to you.

She spent countless days in hospitals, but then other times she was just fine for years at a time.

Take care.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 18, 2021:

Hi Rachel,

When heart disease runs in your families it is good to be informed about anything you can do to stay healthy. I am glad you liked this article.

Thank you for your comments.

Blessing to you also.

Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on June 18, 2021:

Hi Pamela, This is an important article. Heart disease runs in my family and my husband's family. Thank you for sharing your information. More people should read it. Blessings to you.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 15, 2021:

Hi Flourish,

I think genetics is definitely a component. We are all different I guess as some tolerate medicine and others don't. If your relatives have a high good cholesterol number, then that offers some protection.

Thank you so much for your comments. Have a good day!

FlourishAnyway from USA on June 15, 2021:

I've been on two of these. Don't know why the doctor switched me because I wasn't having problems, but the information you present is appreciated. I have relatives who cannot take any type of statins because of muscle degradation and have unbelievable levels of cholesterol due in part to genetics. Thankfully, I'm not one of them.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 14, 2021:

Hi Shauna,

I'm glad you and your parents are healthy. Healthy living is the key good health period.

I appreciate your comments. Have a great week!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on June 14, 2021:

This is good information, Pamela. I'm fortunate to have cholesterol levels well within the healthy range. So do my folks who are 83 and on no medication whatsoever. Healthy living is the key.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 14, 2021:

Hi Bill,

Having a higher number for your good cholesterol is so important, more so than your total number from what I have researched. If you do end up with a statin I hope it will be one with the least side effects.

I appreciate your comments. Have a good week!

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on June 14, 2021:

Great info, Pam. My mother takes a statin and has no side effects that I am aware of. I try to remain active and so far have avoided needing a statin. Hopefully this continues but my total cholesterol has crept up over the last few years, although my good cholesterol number has always remained high. With a family history of high cholesterol I do worry that someday I will need a statin.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 14, 2021:

Hi Devika,

I think you make a good point about lifestyle changes over the centuries. I prefer home cooked meals also.

Thank you for your comments. I hope you have a good week.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on June 13, 2021:

Hi Pamela this is interesting about Statin Medicine. New to me and sounds helpful. People's lifestyles have changed since centuries ago and heart problems are increasing. Due to more fast foods than home cooked meals. I prefer the homecooked meals not a lot of fast foods. Your hub is important t all.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 13, 2021:

Hi Linda,

I think you probably hit the nail on the head. I also think people may be inactive. Your family is fortunate in that regard.

Thank you for your comments, as always. I hope you have a great week.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on June 13, 2021:

Pamela, is it true then that heart disease is becoming more prevalent throughout the world? If so, why? Is it because more people are adopting a "western" diet? No one in my family has a problem with heart disease or high cholesterol; I guess we're very fortunate. Thank you for another educational article.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 13, 2021:

Hi Fran,

You have been through a lot, and I hope you are doing much better now. I'm glad you found this article informative.

I appreciate your nice comments.

fran rooks from Toledo, Ohio on June 13, 2021:

Pamela, another informative article. I have been on Li[pitor since my stroke along with Plavix. I'm careful, take better care, and know when to chill! Thanks again for your article. Have a great day.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 13, 2021:

Hi Tim,

I only have 9 years of Stimvastatin, but I have the same experience as you.

I'm glad you liked the article. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Tim Mitchell from Escondido, CA on June 13, 2021:

Great Article hitting the important points especially about cholesterol levels. I've used Simvastatin for about twenty years now with no side effects. I get evaluated annually with a complete blood panel and physical.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 13, 2021:

Hi Bill,

I'm glad you have had no side effects, which is true for most people. I appreciate your comments, my friend. I agree we should have a long, lovely life with many more years.

Have a wonderful week!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 13, 2021:

Finally something I can relate to. :) I have taken a statin for two years now. No side effects, everything is working properly, knock on wood.

May be both experience a long, lovely life and many more years of friendship.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 13, 2021:

Hi Rosina,

The statins are important for some people, but it is important to know there are side effects,

I am glad you loved the article. It does have important information. I appreciate your comments, my friend.

Blessings.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 13, 2021:

Hi Rozlin,

Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

Blessings

Rosina S Khan on June 13, 2021:

The statins are used to treat heart diseases and in many cases, there are severe side effects. I guess the prevention of heart disease by keeping a healthy weight and healthy habits is much better than cure, as with any other ailment.

I loved your article, Pamela. It certainly brings us all an awareness to keep our hearts strong and healthy. Thank you for the splendid information.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on June 13, 2021:

Hi Misbah,

I hope your father does not get or even have any heart disease. If he can keep his cholesterol in a healthy range that should help. I believe there is a genetic component. Every country I looked at had high levels of people with heart disease.

Thank you so much for your generous and very nice comments.

Blessings and love.

Rozlin from UAE on June 13, 2021:

Hi, Pamela. This is a very informative and helpful article. I learnt a lot from your hub. Thanks for sharing.

Blessings.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Rebels. on June 13, 2021:

Pamela, thank you so much for giving this useful information. Many people die due to heart attacks all around the world. The Pakistani ratio you quoted is really accurate. In Pakistan, the majority of people die of heart attacks. As far as I can remember, my grandfather, grandmother, great grandfather, and my father's uncle all died of heart diseases. My father has high cholesterol as well, so I'm always concerned about his health. Thank you for sharing this useful and interesting information.

You never fail to provide us with useful and interesting information. God Bless you!!

Blessings and Love

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