Even if you are in good physical shape, your doctor may still surprise you with a high cholesterol diagnosis when you have your annual physical. If this happens, there is a very good chance that your doctor will want to talk to you about a medication known as statin.
Below, we are going to try and answer some of the more common questions about cholesterol and statins.
- What are statins, and how do they work?
Statins are medicines that are used to treat high cholesterol in the blood, most of which is made by your liver. Statins help get the amount of cholesterol made under control, whilst also ridding the blood of the excess cholesterol that is already there.
- Why is high cholesterol considered to be unhealthy?
The human body requires cholesterol, but when too much is produced, it can form as a plaque buildup on the artery walls, which can then potentially lead to heart disease or stroke. For many years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued numbers showing that heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the U.S.
- What’s the difference between “good” and “bad” cholesterol?
When cholesterol enters the bloodstream, it us carried by particles known as lipoproteins. Most cholesterol is carried by low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles. These are what are referred to as “bad” cholesterol, since higher LDL levels are often the cause of heart disease and stroke.
“Good” cholesterol is found in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) particles. These are considered to be good because they are carried back to the liver, where they can then be removed from the body. Your doctor can better explain your levels, and what they might man for your heart health.
- Can cholesterol levels be kept in check with a healthy diet and regular exercise?
If you are looking to reduce the risk of heart disease and keep cholesterol in check, then a healthy diet and regular exercise should be considered a must. That said, there are other factors, like genetics, that we can essentially do nothing to control. Some people will find that living a healthy lifestyle will not be enough to keep their cholesterol numbers at a healthy level.
Even if your current cholesterol levels do not appear particularly high, your doctor may still recommend statins if you are considered to be at a higher risk of heart attack or stroke. Statins have proven effective in reducing the risk of both stroke and heart attacks.
- Are there any risks associated with taking statins
Generally speaking, there are very few issues associated with taking statins. Two risks that patients should be aware of are muscle-related complaints, as well as an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Muscle issues can be experienced by anyone, so you need to check with your doctor to see if they are indeed being caused by statins. It is in very rare cases that severe muscle issues come as a result of statin use.
- Is it okay to drink grapefruit juice while taking statins?
Fresh grapefruit and grapefruit juice have been known to have an effect on how some medicines work. This is true with some, but not all, statins. It is also possible that other medications may also interact with the efficacy of statins. Always talk to your healthcare professional about potential issues before you start taking statins.