Are Statin Drugs Really Your Safest Bet? They Might Not Be As Great As They Seem…

When statin drugs were introduced to the market in the 1990s, they were hailed as revolutionary tools for treating high cholesterol and reducing cardiovascular disease. Today, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over a quarter of Americans over age 40 take them.

Are they truly the right solution, though?

Supporting Arguments

There's a growing debate in the medical community about whether statins are the right choice for everyone. Some cardiologists argue that statin therapy reduces the incidence of heart attack and death significantly, even among people with high cholesterol levels but who were otherwise at low risk for developing heart disease.

Some cardiologists argue that statin therapy reduces the incidence of heart attack and death significantly, even among people with high cholesterol levels who were otherwise at low risk for developing heart disease.

The Argument Against

Other experts argue that if a person is at a low risk for heart disease, a better approach for lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease would be lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet and exercise.

They point out that putting a patient on statins often makes them think they're given a "free pass" to eat whatever they like and not exercise, instead trusting the statin to do the job of a healthy diet and exercise program. Statins should only be considered if and when that approach fails.

Statins should only be considered if and when that approach fails.

The Side Effects

Why the concern in the first place?

As greater numbers of people are prescribed statins, more side effects from the drugs have been reported. About 10% of people on statins report muscle pain and weakness or trouble with cognition. The higher your dose of statin, the more likely you are to experience side effects. Studies have shown that statins may also increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The most important thing is to discuss any concerns you might have with your doctor. Many people who were experiencing side effects on one statin were able to reduce or eliminate those symptoms simply by switching to a different statin.

No matter what, remember to always speak with your doctor if you have questions about your health. You should never stop your prescription medication schedule without your physician's approval.