Statins 101

February 18, 2010
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Cholesterol is a wax-like, fatty substance needed by the body for the production of bile acids, provitamin D3, male and female sex hormones, adrenal hormones and membranes that surround cells. It’s also essential for brain and nerve functions.

But not all cholesterol is good. The body’s total cholesterol is made up of both HDL (good) and LDL (bad) cholesterol. A total cholesterol count that is higher than 240 mg/dL or an LDL level greater than 130 mg/dL represents a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

If you fall into one of those categories, your doctor might prescribe statins like Lipitor, Zocor, Pravachol or Crestor to lower your cholesterol. Statins help reduce LDL levels and can also help increase HDL levels, thereby reducing overall risk. About 60 percent of women and 75 percent of men over age 65 were prescribed these medications in 2002 according to the most recent data available from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Statins can cause unpleasant side effects like muscle and joint pain, nausea and potential liver damage. However, the advantages outweigh the risks in most cases. Additional benefits include reducing inflammation and lowering blood pressure, plus new research is exploring the ability of statins to prevent arthritis, cancer and reduce the possibility of dementia.

Other available prescription treatments for high cholesterol include bile acid binding resins, cholesterol absorption inhibitors and niacin. Speak with your doctor about the best option based on your individual risk profile. Our pharmacy staff will provide a full consultation when you fill any prescription with us.