Q:  I have heard pros and cons about statins for my high cholesterol.  What are your thoughts?

A:  Statins are medications that lower your cholesterol and risk for a heart attack or stroke. Cholesterol is a fat in your blood. If you have too much, it can build up in the blood vessels. It causes deposits in the blood vessels that cause them to harden. If you have blood pressure issues, as well, that makes it doubly bad by putting more pressure on those blood vessels while they are getting hard at the same time.

Statins lower cholesterol by blocking your body from making it. We are trying to prevent the hardening in the blood vessels, which will lead to a stroke or heart attack. The down side is, statins interact with many medicines. They even interact with grapefruit juice.

The biggest problems from statins are usually causing muscle pain and inflaming the liver. Sometimes, this muscle and joint pain can be disabling. The other side of the coin, though, is that statins are the only drugs that have shown any decrease in strokes and heart attacks.

Several other drugs have shown decreased cholesterol, but have not shown a decrease in heart attacks. If you can get your LDL portion of the cholesterol below 70, the hardening of the arteries actually has been shown to reverse.

Dr. Rick Casey

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