Elevated levels of cholesterol in your body can greatly increase your risk of blocked arteries and heart disease in the future. That’s why keeping your cholesterol in check now can really pay off later on down the road. If you already have heightened levels of cholesterol, don’t give up yet. There are options available to help you keep your levels back down to a healthy level and reduce your risk of heart problems in the future. The most effective treatment available now are statins. Statin medications can help to reduce the levels of unhealthy cholesterol (LDL) and ultimately lower your risk of heart disease. Although statins directly target cholesterol, they are often prescribed as a method of reducing the risk of heart disease even in patients with normal cholesterol levels, but who exhibit other risk factors. Risk factors for heart disease include:
– Age 55 or older
– Family history of heart disease
– High Blood Pressure
In order to understand how statins work, it’s important to know a little more about how cholesterol functions in your body. Cholesterol is a thick, waxy substance that is naturally produced in the liver, but is also from animal food products in your digestive system. In healthy amounts, cholesterol is a very useful substance necessary to the healthy functioning of your body which helps to produce hormones. However, when too much cholesterol is absorbed from food, or from overproduction in the liver, a dangerous condition can occur. The fatty substances in cholesterol starts to be deposited in the blood stream and its buildup can block essential arteries. This is what causes serious heart problems, like strokes, attacks, or heart disease.
Statins work by being absorbed in the liver and stopping the production of a specific enzyme that produces cholesterol. This is why statins are also known as an HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor. By slowing down the production of LDL cholesterol and increasing the production of “good” HDL cholesterol, statins can reduce up to 60% of bad cholesterol levels. Research shows that to date, statins are the most effective drug choice for the purpose of reducing cholesterol and lowering the risk of heart disease. There are varying types of statins with different dosages and potency. Your doctor will prescribe you a dosage based on your current cholesterol levels, personal tolerance, and risk factors. Statins are a reliable and preferred treatment for many medical professionals, but they are not the only treatment used for lowering cholesterol. Statin alternatives can include: Fibric acid, nicontinic acid, and absorbtion inhibitors. Alternative cholesterol lowering drugs can be useful for patients who allergic to statins, patients who are pregnant, or patients who experience adverse side effects of statins. Statins are FDA approved and generally considered safe.