What to know about this common type of cholesterol medication.
Statins are a therapeutic class of drugs used to manage high cholesterol levels. And they’re popular — an estimated 38.6 million Americans take a statin to reduce their risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
Why Statins Are Popular
Nearly 1 in 3 American adults has high cholesterol. Elevated cholesterol levels can cause atherosclerosis, that occurs when cholesterol accumulates on the wall of the arteries and restricts blood flow. This buildup increases the risk for developing heart disease and can lead to chest pain, heart attacks and strokes. People with high total cholesterol have an increased risk for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the US, than those with ideal levels.
How They Work
There are two types of cholesterol in the bloodstream: LDL, “bad cholesterol” and HDL, “good cholesterol.” LDL is bad because it acts as plaque, sticking to the walls of your arteries and restricting blood flow. HDL, on the other hand, is good because it acts as a scavenger, absorbing bad HDL cholesterol in the bloodstream. Statins are used along with a proper diet to help lower the “bad cholesterol” and fats (LDL) and raise “good cholesterol” (HDL) in the blood. They work by reducing the amount of cholesterol made by the liver. Lowering “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides and raising “good” cholesterol decreases the risk of heart disease and helps prevent strokes and heart attacks.
Commonly Prescribed Statins
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This article is not medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your physician or dial 911.
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