Published on January 02, 2019


Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs: More Benefit than Risk

You or someone you know probably takes a cholesterol-lowering drug called a statin – 1 in 4 Americans do, but many people stop taking them due to fear of side-effects. Now the American Heart Association tells us that the heart-health benefits of statins far outweigh the risks.

The Association reviewed many studies on statins and found that they can significantly reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke without side-effects for most patients, according to the statement, published in December the scientific journal Circulation: Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.


While these drugs can save lives, up to 10 percent of people on statins stop taking them because they experience symptoms that they assume are caused by the drug, but actually may not be, suggests the statement.

“Some patients incorrectly associate muscle aches and pains with the statins, but stopping your medication can greatly increase the risk of stroke or heart attack” said Michael Chen, MD, an interventional cardiologist and director of the Cardiac Cath Lab at Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center.

“Muscle aches can be fairly common and caused by a number of issues unrelated to statins. It’s important to take your medications as prescribed and see your doctor if you experience side-effects,” adds Dr. Chen.

Statins may not be right for everyone. When it comes to statins, Dr. Chen recommends these steps.

  • Discuss with your doctor the best way to manage your cholesterol
  • Talk with your doctor about any side-effects
  • If you begin to pass dark urine when taking statins, seek medical attention immediately


“While medications can certainly help people with high cholesterol, it’s important to make healthy lifestyle choices to keep your maintain a healthy cholesterol level,” said Dr. Chen.

Try these heart healthy tips to manage your cholesterol.

  • Limit carbs, sugar and fat in your diet
  • Eat more vegetables and fruit
  • Exercise regularly
  • Minimize red meat consumption
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
  • Do not smoke

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