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New Ulm Medical Center

Cut your cholesterol with Statins

To make an appointment with your provider at New Ulm Medical Center, call 507-217-5011.

If you need to lower your cholesterol, statins are a powerful ally. These drugs help reduce high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol that often is deposited in the artery walls. As the statin starts working, it helps decrease the buildup of artery-clogging plaque. The statins can also stabilize the plaque build up from rupture, which is the primary cause of heart attack.

“Used in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle, statins are a very effective tool to help lower cholesterol,” said Herm Louters, MD, a family medicine physician at New Ulm Medical Center. “Lowering your cholesterol is a necessary step toward avoiding heart disease and other chronic conditions.”

Statins lower cholesterol in two ways. First, they put the brakes on an enzyme that controls cholesterol production. They also enhance your liver’s ability to remove LDL cholesterol that’s already in the bloodstream.

“What this ultimately means is that there is far less cholesterol stopping up your arteries,” Louters said.

In addition to lowering cholesterol, statins reduce C-reactive protein (CRP) in your bloodstream. C-reactive protein is another contributor to heart disease.

Statins currently on the market include atorvastatin, fluvastatin, lovastatin, rosuvastatin, pravastatin, and simvastatin. More are possibly coming. But if they all do the same thing, why are there so many? Three reasons:

  1. Each statin works a slightly different way.
  2. Each statin is available in different strengths and dosages.
  3. Your body may react differently to one statin over another.

The statin that’s right for you is the one that works best at a price or copayment you can afford. Also, keep in mind that as patents on name-brand versions expire, more generic statins become available. These often are half the price of name brands.

“Statins rarely have serious side effects,” Louters said. “Your doctor can work with you to determine which one is best for you.”

When you start taking a statin, follow these tips:

  • Take them in the evening. Statins typically are taken at dinner or at bedtime. That’s because the body makes more cholesterol at night than during the day.
  • Stick with it. While you may not feel any different, your cholesterol level will begin to drop in a little as two weeks. By the time your doctor checks your cholesterol at six to eight weeks, you might be surprised by how much it has dropped!
  • Report any continual discomfort. As your body adjusts to a new drug, you may experience slight gas, stomach upset, constipation, or cramping. If these conditions continue or worsen, call your doctor.

Lower Cholesterol Begins with Healthy Choices

Your doctor can decide if your cholesterol level is too high by testing your blood. Everyone age 20 or older should have this done at least once every five years. But it’s not just a numbers game. Your doctor will carefully consider not only your cholesterol, but also your risk for heart disease.

Statins usually perform best when combined with a healthy lifestyle. If you’re prescribed a statin, concentrate on following these healthy practices:


Source: New Ulm Medical Center - Health Edition
Reviewed by: Herm Louters, MD, a family medicine physician at New Ulm Medical Center.
First Published: 05/01/2013
Last Reviewed: 05/01/2013