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The Truth About Statins: Should You Take One?

posted on 8/4/2016 Facebook Facebook

There’s no doubt that a healthy lifestyle can work wonders to lower high cholesterol levels. However, the question is whether it can lower the levels enough to be deemed ‘healthy’ in your specific case. People with very high levels of cholesterol require medications along with healthy lifestyle changes to control their rising numbers and curb their risk of heart diseases and stroke. One of the most popular cholesterol lowering drugs are statins which work by blocking the action of a certain enzyme in the liver which makes ''bad'' cholesterol (LDL) and slightly raises levels of ''good'' cholesterol HDL.

Statins: A Therapeutic Arsenal Against Cholesterol
Statins have been the ‘gold standard’ for treating high cholesterol levels for several years. They can shrink LDL cholesterol by up to 60 percent, boost levels of the “good” artery-clearing HDL cholesterol, prevent the buildup of perilous fatty plaques, and reduce triglycerides, blood clotting and inflammation, all of which contribute to heart disease.

Some of the most commonly used statins include  Zocor, Lipitor, Crestor, and Pravachol. Most of these medicines are prescribed as a preventive measure to keep heart diseases at bay. About 1 in 500 people worldwide have familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), an inherited condition that causes high levels of cholesterol and is a major risk factor for ischemic heart disease (IHD). According to a Global Burden of Disease report, IHD remain the number one killer among non-communicable diseases in India. Statins find their way in most heart disease prevention prescriptions due to their reputation of curbing the harmful benefits of high cholesterol levels.

However, there has been a major debate on the true utility of statins since they are known to come with a host of side effects. The most common symptoms include headache, pins and needles, stomach upset, muscle and joint aches, diarrhea, and a rash. Some experts have also suggested that excessive use of statins can increase your susceptibility to diabetes.

The American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association developed rational guidelines in 2013 after carefully reviewing the decades of published studies about statins. Depending on these guidelines, doctors are first required to determine a patient’s overall risk of cardiac disease, taking into account their cholesterol levels as well as other risk factors such as blood pressure, smoking history, diabetes, age, and sex. Only after careful consideration and a thorough assessment of a patient’s family and medical history can a doctor decide to prescribe statins. To determine whether you require a statin or not, it is best to speak to your doctor. You can also reduce your high cholesterol levels and protect your heart by natural alternative methods.

  • Cholesterol lowering diet: Research suggests that certain foods can reduce the levels of LDL and improve the levels of HDL in the body. A Mediterranean-style diet rich in olive oil, fruit, veg, fish can slash heart attack risk by a third.

  • Regular Exercise: Routine exercise even as little as 20 minutes every day can not only keep your cholesterol levels in check and heart healthy but also keep you away from obesity, diabetes and even cancer.

  • Leave out the stress: Excessive stress can have debilitating effects on your health. Stress often increases the levels of ‘stress hormones’ which can make you eat more, slow your metabolism and also affect your sleep wake cycle. All these factors are known to work cumulatively and increase the risk of heart diseases and diabetes.

Want to know if you are at a risk of suffering from high cholesterol levels and hence heart disease? Our personal genomics test can not only determine your risk for heart disease but also diabetes and various types of cancers. You can also learn if your cholesterol lowering drugs are working effectively in your body or not. Speak to our genetic counselors today on 1800 3070 6727 (TOLL FREE) or write to us at: info@positivebioscience.com.

References:

  1. 1: Zhou Q, Liao JK. Statins and cardiovascular diseases: from cholesterol lowering to pleiotropy. Curr Pharm Des. 2009;15(5):467-78. Review. PubMed PMID: 19199975; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2896785.

  2. 1: Amarenco P, Lavallée P, Touboul PJ. Stroke prevention, blood cholesterol, and statins. Lancet Neurol. 2004 May;3(5):271-8. Review. PubMed PMID: 15099541.

  3. 1: Kapur NK, Musunuru K. Clinical efficacy and safety of statins in managing cardiovascular risk. Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2008;4(2):341-53. Review. PubMed PMID: 18561510; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2496987.

  4. 1: Cholesterol Treatment Trialists'' (CTT) Collaborators, Mihaylova B, Emberson J, Blackwell L, Keech A, Simes J, Barnes EH, Voysey M, Gray A, Collins R, Baigent C.The effects of lowering LDL cholesterol with statin therapy in people at low risk of vascular disease: meta-analysis of individual data from 27 randomised trials. Lancet. 2012 Aug 11;380(9841):581-90. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60367-5. Epub 2012 May 17. PubMed PMID: 22607822; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3437972.

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