Are Statins Safe To Take? Understanding Its Risks And Benefits

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Statins or generic medicines on a calendar with a sphygmanometer. Medical check up concept.
Statins or generic medicines on a calendar with a sphygmanometer. Medical check up concept. Source: Depositphotos

While at times contributed by guest authors, our content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. We pride ourselves on our high-quality content and strive towards offering expertise while being authoritative. Our reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students.

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Scientists at the Universities of Oxford and Sydney conducted a study in 2019 to determine the efficacy of statins in different age groups, spanning from 55 years of age to 76 and above. It was found that statins reduce the risk of heart attack by 25% and a reduction in stroke by 21% among all age groups.

Furthermore, for people over the age of 75, statins also reduce the risk of such serious occurrence by approximately 20% for each millimole per liter, decreasing LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, often called bad cholesterol.

This shows how statins effectively lower high-level cholesterol to a healthier level, minimizing the risk of heart disease or stroke. Consequently, this article will discuss the safety of intaking statins and understand their risks and benefits.

What Are Statins?

To put it simply, all of your blood cells contain cholesterol, and your body needs a certain amount of cholesterol to function correctly. However, if your blood contains too much cholesterol, you will likely increase the risk of having coronary artery disease.

When we talk about coronary artery disease, we’re referring to a common cardiac condition in which the arteries that feed blood to the heart muscle become hardened or restricted. This condition is caused by a buildup of cholesterol, among other factors.

This is where the cholesterol-lowering drug comes into play. Your doctor will recommend you take a statin, along with the recommendation on which statin to take after an unsuccessful effort of changing your lifestyle, like eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and abstaining from unhealthy habits.

The prescription drug you’ll take will help lower your LDL or bad cholesterol, while it will also help increase your HDL (high-density lipoprotein), often called good cholesterol. The distinction between the two types of lipoproteins is that having a higher LDL level causes cholesterol to accumulate in the arteries, while the latter eliminates cholesterol from the body.

How Do Statins Work?

Statins stop your liver from making cholesterol. Through the process, an enzyme called HMG-CoA-Reductase is blocked, significantly reducing LDL cholesterol production. Since the liver produces less cholesterol, it extracts cholesterol from the blood to form bile, lowering your blood cholesterol level. With this, it can help you avoid having plaque build up in your arteries by making them less likely to form.

Are Statins Safe?

Statins are widely used medication and have been carefully examined; it has been established that they are safe and well-tolerated. In addition, it showed that the hazards associated with long-term statin treatment are minimal, but the possible benefits are significant.

According to the review published in 2016, statin’s adverse effects are vastly overstated. In addition, the review claims the efficacy of the medication is evident, and the usage of such prescription drugs is safe. Moreover, statin’s benefits outweigh its risks.

Risks Of Taking Statins

Although this cholesterol-lowering medication is generally well-tolerated and safe, the only risk associated with it is the possibility of experiencing its side effects. Unfortunately, there are those people who experience its side effects. However, the risks of taking statins are only minimal compared to their significant benefits. 

Listed below are some of its side effects:

Muscle Pain

Muscle soreness is among the most often reported side effects of statin use. A tightness, exhaustion, or weakening in your muscles may be a symptom of this pain. However, the pain may be barely noticeable or interfere with your day-to-day activities, depending on how bad it is.

Increased Blood Sugar

Although this is a rare case, your blood sugar levels might increase when you take a statin, leading to the risk of acquiring type 2 diabetes. This usually happens when your blood sugar levels are thus far high and fall into the diabetes scope. 

Damaged Liver

At times, statin use may increase enzyme levels associated with liver inflammation. If the increase is not severe, you may continue taking the medication. However, if the increase is extreme on such rare occasions, you may need to try and switch statins that your doctor still prescribes.

As Dr. Reena Pande, a cardiologist working at Harvard-affiliated institutions, said, “You need to balance the low risk of these side effects with the potential benefit of lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and death.”

Benefits Of Taking Statins

When you take statins, your bad cholesterol level drops in your blood which is solely the purpose for the creation of this medication. This reduces your risk of heart attack or stroke, which is a significant benefit. And the benefit of this drug is very much substantial compared to its little to no risk of life-threatening side effects.

Conclusion

Even though statins include some risks and pose some mild and rare side effects, it greatly provides significant benefits, especially to those at high risk.

Statin helps manage our health, keeping us safe from the dangers of high cholesterol. Still, don’t hesitate to discuss them thoroughly with your doctor before intake.

While at times contributed by guest authors, our content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. We pride ourselves on our high-quality content and strive towards offering expertise while being authoritative. Our reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students. -----------------------------------

Any information found on the site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Should you face health issues, please visit your doctor to get yourself diagnosed. Icy Health offers expert opinions and advice for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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