What Are Statins?

A healthcare provider may prescribe statins to treat high cholesterol. Statins are also known as "HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors." These medications are effective at lowering cholesterol, and some have even been shown to prevent heart attacks, strokes, and other similar problems.
Statins work by inhibiting a particular enzyme, HMG-CoA reductase, which controls the rate of cholesterol production in the body. This causes the liver to make less cholesterol. Statins also:
  • Increase the liver's ability to collect and get rid of LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol)
  • Increase HDL cholesterol ("good" cholesterol)
  • Decrease triglycerides.
Statins come in tablet or capsule form, and are typically taken once or twice a day, depending on the specific medication you are taking). Although most people tolerate these medications well, they are not suitable for everyone. Before starting treatment with statins, talk to your healthcare provider about any other medical conditions you may have or any other medications you are taking (including vitamins and herbal supplements). Some of the common side effects include headaches, muscle pain, and abdominal pain (stomach pain).
(Click Statins for more information on how these medications can be beneficial in lowering cholesterol. This article also discusses general dosing guidelines, safety precautions, and tips on effectively using statins.)
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