The Scoop on Statins
Statin medications have been used for more than 30 years to reduce cholesterol and to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. Studies suggest that statins are associated with a 54 percent decrease in risk of heart attack and a 48 percent decrease in risk of stroke for those at risk for heart disease.
Who should take a statin?
Statins are not needed for everyone, but they are found to be beneficial for people who fit one or more of the following criteria:
- People with heart disease, also known as atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), including personal history of stroke, heart attack or peripheral vascular disease, and also those who suffer from chest pains (angina)
- People with LDL cholesterol of 190mg/dL or higher
- People aged 40 to 75 years with diabetes
- People aged 40 to 75 who have an estimated 10-year risk of an ASCVD event greater than 7.5 percent (this is a number calculated by your provider to estimate your risk of heart disease)
Worried about side effects?
- One out of 10 people who take statins experience muscle pain, but serious muscle damage only happens in 1 in 10,000 people who take statins.
- Liver damage from statins is not common. Liver function is tested before and shortly after a statin is started, but the FDA does not consider regular liver function testing necessary for safe statin use because of how rare liver damage is with statin therapy.
- Statins may raise blood sugar slightly, but this is countered by the significant reduction in heart disease associated with statin medication use. In patients with prediabetes who took statins over a four-year period, only one out of 255 of these patients were diagnosed with diabetes sooner than expected without a statin.
- Statins are not associated with significant long-term effects on memory and brain function. In fact, statins may help prevent dementia by protecting against atherosclerosis, or the hardening of brain arteries that is associated with dementia.
How can you improve your statin adherence?
- Take your statin every day or as otherwise directed by your provider. You can use alarms, pill boxes, or other methods to remind you to take your medication as prescribed
- Your plan may cover up to a 100-day supply of your statin medication and other long-term medications and mail-order pharmacies can deliver your medications to your doorstep for your convenience. Check your pharmacy benefits to determine what is available for your plan.
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