Monday, July 28, 2008

Understanding Statins and Cholesterol Medications

By Rich Benvin

There are over 100 million American adults that should seek medical advice to lower their high blood cholesterol levels. Statins, a cholesterol lowering medication which have few side effects have helped to fight heart disease and lower cholesterol levels, even though Americans are actually getting fatter.

Don't worry; you are not out of luck. This article focuses on the actions you can take to lower your cholesterol levels and live a healthier life. After we quickly explain to you what cholesterol is we can then provide you with ways your physician can prescribe statin medications to help. Statins are not the only cholesterol reducing drug, but it is the one we will be discussing throughout this article.

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat like substance that presents itself naturally in cell walls and membranes everywhere in your body. Your body uses cholesterol to produce many hormones. Where problems arise is when there is an over abundance of cholesterol in your bloodstream.

Your doctor may decide that you need help in controlling your cholesterol if you are not able to reduce it using natural treatments. Even if your doctor prescribes any of these medications, you must still follow through with healthy lifestyle treatments as well. There are several different types of medications used to lower cholesterol, but we will focus only on statins.

What are statins and how do they work? Statins repress the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase. This enzyme controls the rate that cholesterol produces itself in the body. These drugs can lower cholesterol from 20 to 60%. They slow the production while they increase the liver's ability to withdraw LDL (Low Density Lipoproteins). Statins lower the LDL levels better than any other type of drug.

Statins not only decrease total cholesterol and triglycerides, but they can also produce a moderate increase of HDL (High Density Lipoproteins). Encouraging results can usually be seen as quickly as 4 to 6 weeks after beginning use of the medication. Statins are also known to reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other possible coronary illnesses.

You should not take statins if: you are allergic to statins themselves or their ingredients; you are pregnant or breastfeeding; you have liver disease; you regularly consume excessive amounts of alcohol; you have a history of myopathy; or if you have experienced renal failure.

Lipitor, Crestor, Zocor, Lescol, Altocor and Mevacor are all prescription brand name statins that you might recognize. Please know of certain food and/or drug interactions that may have adverse effects. If you drink more than a quart of grapefruit juice per day it can very well decrease the liver's ability to process some statin drugs. It is critical to know that there are other medications that you might be taking that can possibly interact with the statins to cause some weighty side effects.

If you are taking prescription or even over-the-counter drugs such as: birth control pills, immune system medications, medication for infections, medication for heart failure, HIV or AIDS, herbal supplements, Coumadin, or other cholesterol drugs make sure to let your doctor know before taking statins.

Although very rare, it is possible for side effects to surface from the use of statins. If you happen to experience vomiting, discolored urine, pain, muscle soreness, stomach pain, or weakness immediately discontinue the use of the medication and contact your physician.

About the Author:

No comments: