Statins and Heart Disease: What You Need to Know

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doctor holding prescription pillsHeart disease remains one of the leading causes of death in both men and women, although it can also be very preventable. For people who are at a greater risk of heart disease, a group of medications known as statins could help to significantly lower this risk.

Despite this benefit, however, some are reluctant to take these potentially life-saving medications because of their reported side effects. If you’re on the fence about taking statins, here’s what you need to know to help you make a well-informed decision.

What Are Statins, and How Can They Treat Heart Disease?

Statins are a group of commonly prescribed medications that help to treat heart disease by lowering levels of low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol, in your bloodstream. Otherwise, this cholesterol can cause deposits of fat to build up within your arteries, causing them to harden and narrow. This condition, known as atherosclerosis, greatly increases your risk for having a heart attack.

Statins have been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack by 29 percent, and lower bad cholesterol levels by 25 percent.

Why the Controversy?

Even though statins can be beneficial, a controversy still exists over the possibility that these medications are being overprescribed. However, as research continues to uncover the life-saving benefits of statins, more healthcare professionals are beginning to prescribe them to reduce the number of deaths and complications related to heart disease that occur each year.

Of course, it’s best to talk to your doctor to help you decide what treatment is best for you. Although the known side effects of statins are relatively mild and may include muscle aches and cramps, there may also be a small risk of developing type 2 diabetes when taking statins.