What are statins, and how do they work?
"Statins" is a class of drugs that lowers the level of cholesterol in the blood by reducing the production of cholesterol by the liver. (The other source of cholesterol in the blood is dietary cholesterol.) Statins block the enzyme in the liver that is responsible for making cholesterol. This enzyme is called hydroxy-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase (HMG-CoA reductase). Scientifically, statins are referred to as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors.
Cholesterol is critical to the normal function of every cell in the body. However, it also contributes to the development of atherosclerosis, a condition in which cholesterol-containing plaques form within arteries. These plaques block the arteries and reduce the flow of blood to the tissues the arteries supply. When plaques rupture, a blood clot forms on the plaque, thereby further blocking the artery and reducing the flow of blood. When blood flow is reduced sufficiently in the arteries that supply blood to the heart, the result is angina (chest pain) or a heart attack. If reduced flow is caused by plaques in the arteries of the brain, the result is a stroke. If reduced flow is caused by plaques in the arteries of the leg, they cause intermittent claudication (pain in the legs while walking). By reducing the production of cholesterol, statins are able to slow the formation of new plaques and occasionally can reduce the size of plaques that already exist. In addition, through mechanisms that are not well understood, statins may also stabilize plaques and make them less prone to rupturing and develop clots.
The important role of cholesterol in atherosclerosis is widely accepted by scientists. Research from the last few years shows that aggressive cholesterol reduction is more beneficial than modest reductions. Nevertheless, atherosclerosis is a complex process that involves more than just cholesterol. For example, scientists have discovered that inflammation in the walls of the arteries may be an important factor in in the development of atherosclerosis. In addition to lowering cholesterol levels, statins also reduce inflammation, which could be another mechanism by which statins beneficially affect atherosclerosis. This reduction of inflammation does not depend on statins' ability to reduce cholesterol. Furthermore, these anti-inflammatory effects can be seen as early as two weeks after starting statins.
What are some examples of statins?
What are some examples of statins?
Statins that are approved for use in the U.S. include:
Quick GuideLower Your Cholesterol, Save Your Heart
For what conditions are statins used?
Risk factors for atherosclerosis include:
- Abnormally elevated cholesterol levels
- A family history of heart attacks (particularly at a young age)
- Increasing age
- High blood pressure
Most individuals are placed on statins because of high levels of cholesterol. Though reduction of cholesterol is important, heart disease is complex and, as discussed previously, other factors such as inflammation may play a role. Thirty-five percent of individuals who develop heart attacks do not have high blood cholesterol levels, yet most of them have atherosclerosis. This means that high levels of cholesterol are not always necessary for atherosclerotic plaques to form.
Because it is not clear which effect of statins is responsible for their benefits, the goal of treatment with statins should not be only the reduction of cholesterol to normal levels, but rather the prevention of the complications of atherosclerosis (angina, heart attacks, stroke, intermittent claudication, and death). This concept is important because it allows for individuals who have or are at risk for atherosclerosis, but do not have high levels of cholesterol to be considered for treatment with statins. Statins, like angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors), are an important class of drugs because they have been shown to reduce the incidence of heart attacks, strokes, and death.
What are the side effects of statins?
The most common side effects are:
The most serious side effects are liver failure and rhabdomyolysis (injury or death of muscle tissue). Serious liver damage caused by statins is rare. More often, statins cause abnormalities of liver tests. Abnormal tests usually return to normal even if a statin is continued, but if the abnormal test value is greater than three times the upper limit of normal, the statin usually is stopped. Liver tests should be measured before statins are started and if there is a medical concern about liver damage thereafter.
Rhabdomyolysis is a rare serious side effect which involves damage to muscles. Rhabdomyolysis often begins as muscle pain and can progress to loss of muscle cells, kidney failure, and death. It occurs more often when statins are used in combination with other drugs that themselves cause rhabdomyolysis or with drugs that prevent the elimination of statins and raise the levels of statins in the blood. Since rhabdomyolysis may be fatal, unexplained joint or muscle pain that occurs while taking statins should be brought to the attention of a health care professional for evaluation. Statins must not be used during pregnancy because of the risk of serious adverse effects to the developing fetus.
Statins have been associated with increases in HbA1c and fasting serum glucose levels that are seen in diabetes.
There are also post-marketing reports of memory loss, forgetfulness, amnesia, confusion, and memory impairment. Symptoms may start one day to years after starting treatment and resolve within a median of three weeks after stopping the statin.
With which drugs do statins interact?
Statins have some important drug interactions. The first type of interaction involves the enzymes responsible for the elimination of statins by the liver. Liver enzymes (specifically, the cytochrome P-450 liver enzymes) are responsible for eliminating all statins from the body with the exception of pravastatin and rosuvastatin. Therefore, drugs that block the action of these liver enzymes increase the levels of simvastatin, lovastatin, fluvastatin, and atorvastatin (but not pravastatin or rosuvastatin) in the blood and can lead to the development of rhabdomyolysis. Drugs or agents that block these enzymes include:
- protease inhibitors, for example, indinavir (Crixivan), ritonavir (Norvir) used in treating AIDS)
- erythromycin (E-Mycin)
- itraconazole, (Sporanox)
- clarithromycin, (Biaxin)
- telithromycin (Ketek)
- cyclosporine (Sandimmune)
- boceprevir (Victrelis)
- telaprevir (Incivek)
- voriconazole (Vfend)
- diltiazem, (Cardizem, Dilacor, Tiazac)
- verapamil (Calan, Verelan, Verelan PM, Isoptin, Isoptin SR, Covera-HS)
- ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir and dasabuvir (Viekira Pak)
- grapefruit juice (> one quart daily)
Lovastatin and simvastatin should not be combined with the following drugs:
- ketoconazole (Nizoral, Extina, Xolegel, Kuric)
- danazol (Danocrine)
- protease inhibitors
- amiodarone (Cordarone)
- amlodipine (Norvasc)
- ranolazine (Ranexa)
Another important drug interaction occurs between statins and niacin and fibric acids, for example, gemfibrozil (Lopid), clofibrate (Atromid-S), and fenofibrate (Tricor). Niacin and the fibric acid drugs (lipid-lowering agents) can cause rhabdomyolysis or liver failure when used alone, and combining them with statins increases the likelihood of rhabdomyolysis or liver failure. Gemfibrozil should not be combined with statins. Other fibric acids and niacin are used, with caution, in combination with statins.
Cholestyramine (Questran) as well as colestipol (Colestid) bind statins in the intestine and reduce their absorption into the body. To prevent this binding within the intestine, statins should be taken one hour before or four hours after cholestyramine or colestipol.
Stains increase the effect of warfarin (Coumadin). Patients taking statins and warfarin should have their blood clotting ability monitored carefully.
Statins should not be combined with red yeast rice because red yeast rice contains a chemical that is similar to statins. Combining red yeast rice with statins can lead to serious side effects such as muscle breakdown (myopathy).
Are there differences among statins?
Statins differ in several ways. The most obvious difference is in their ability to reduce cholesterol. Currently, atorvastatin (Lipitor) and rosuvastatin (Crestor) are the most potent, and fluvastatin (Lescol) is the least potent.
The statins also differ in how strongly they interact with other drugs. Specifically, pravastatin (Pravachol) and rosuvastatin (Crestor) levels in the body are less likely to be elevated by other drugs that may be taken at the same time as the statins. This is so because the enzymes in the liver that eliminate pravastatin and rosuvastatin are not blocked by many of the drugs that block the enzymes that eliminate other statins. This prevents the levels of pravastatin and rosuvastatin from rising and leading to increased toxicity such as myopathy (inflammation of the muscles). For example, in scientific studies, patients who took both verapamil (Calan, Verelan, Verelan PM, Isoptin, Isoptin SR, Covera-HS) and simvastatin (Zocor) experienced myopathy 10 times more often than patients who received simvastatin alone because verapamil increased the blood levels of simvastatin.
Statins differ in the frequency with which they cause a severe type of myopathy called rhabdomyolysis, in which muscles are severely damaged. Cerivastatin (Baycol) was withdrawn from pharmacies worldwide because it caused rhabdomyolysis 10 to 100 times more often than other statins. Rhabdomyolysis may occur more often in patients taking statins with drugs that also cause rhabdomyolysis or drugs that increase the blood concentration of the statin.
Serious side effects can occur.
Examples of statins available in the US are
- atorvastatin (Lipitor),
- fluvastatin (Lescol, Lescol XL),
- lovastatin (Mevacor, Altoprev),
- pravastatin (Pravachol),
- rosuvastatin (Crestor),
- simvastatin (Zocor), and
- pitavastatin (Livalo).
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Cholesterol Levels: What the Numbers Mean
Do you know the different cholesterol levels and what they mean? Learn the alphabet soup of cholesterol testing: LDL, HDL, good,...
Heart Disease: Symptoms, Signs, and Causes
What is heart disease (coronary artery disease)? Learn about the causes of heart disease. Symptoms of heart disease include chest...
Lower Your Cholesterol, Save Your Heart
Need to lower your cholesterol levels? Use these smart diet tips to quickly and easily lower your blood cholesterol levels....
Am I Having a Heart Attack? Symptoms of Heart Disease
Heart attacks symptoms vary greatly for men and women, from anxiety and fatigue to nausea and sweating. Learn the warning signs...
Stroke Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Take the Stroke Quiz to learn about stroke risks, causes, treatment, and most importantly, prevention....
Fat and Fats Quiz: Fatty Food & Body Fat Percentage
Take this online Fat & Fats Quiz to learn if you really are what you eat!...
Sugar Quiz: Facts on Diet & Sugar
Sugar lurks in surprising places. Take the Sugar Quiz to learn of the many ways sugar sneaks into your diet and see what you know...
Food Portion Distortion Quiz: Correct Serving Size
Are your portions deceiving you? Take the Food Portion Distortion Quiz to find out how and why gigantic portions trick you into...
Protein Quiz: Foods High in Protein
Protein is a staple in our diets, but what happens if we get too much? Take this quiz to find out the truth about protein and...
High Cholesterol (Hyperlipidemia) Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
High cholesterol can be a dangerous condition. Take the Cholesterol Quiz to understand what high cholesterol means in terms of...
Salt Quiz: Test Your Diet IQ
Do you love salt? Take the online Salt Quiz to get the facts about dietary salts and sodium in fruits, vegetables, processed...
Superfoods Quiz: List of Top Superfoods
Take our Superfoods Quiz! Get to know how unprocessed, raw, organic foods and healthy drinks are rich in nutrients and dietary...
Heart Disease Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Take our Heart Disease Quiz to get answers and facts about high cholesterol, atherosclerosis prevention, and the causes,...
Heart-Healthy Diet: 25 Foods to Protect Your Cardiovascular System
See 25 foods loaded with heart-healthy nutrients that help protect your cardiovascular system. Plus, find easy meal/recipes and...
Cholesterol Drugs: What to Expect With Heart Medication
When diet and exercise aren't enough, should you turn to drugs? Learn cholesterol basics, drug classes, and available drugs along...
Picture of Cholesterol
Cholesterol carried in particles of low density (LDL cholesterol) is referred to as the "bad" cholesterol because elevated levels...
Heart Health Pictures: How to Lower Triglycerides
Learn 14 ways to lower triglycerides. Learn to keep your heart healthy and triglyceride levels in check with these diet,...
Cholesterol: High Triglyceride Foods to Avoid
High triglycerides increase the risk of heart disease. Lower triglyceride levels and reduce cholesterol by eating foods that...
Slideshow: High-Fiber Super Foods: Whole Grains, Fruits, & More
Learn about high-fiber foods. From fresh fruits to whole grains, these fiber-rich foods can lower cholesterol, prevent...
Food Swaps for Meals and Snacks for Heart Health in Pictures
Explore 10 food swaps for heart-wise dining. Learn what food to buy and how to cook in order to make a big difference for your...
12 Reasons to Love the Mediterranean Diet in Pictures
The Mediterranean diet is a delicious way to eat healthy. We show you how to get the most from this diet with foods like olive...
Tips to Eat Healthy When You Dine Out in Pictures
Recognize the dangers of eating out and stay on your healthy diet at restaurants. Learn about healthy eating at restaurants,...
High Protein Diets: Good or Bad?
Low-carb, high-protein diets are quite popular. High protein diets let you snack on protein-rich foods you love, but what are the...
Food Cravings Slideshow: Chocolate, Carbs, Salt, Sugar
Learn which food cravings can wreck your diet. Whether your craving something creamy or crunchy, sweet or salty, food cravings...
13 Easy Ways to Eat More Greens
Learn 13 easy ways to add more greens to your diet. Discover how to add kale, spinach, broccoli rabe and more into your diet....
10 Worst Fast-Food Sandwiches: Unhealthy Choices in Pictures
Want to know what the good and bad fast-food sandwiches choices are? Our experts explore the nutrition facts of major restaurant...
Related Disease Conditions
Liver disease can be cause by a variety of things including infection (hepatitis), diseases such as: gallstones, high...
Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD Symptoms, Signs, Causes, Treatments)
Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) refers to diseases of the blood vessels (arteries and veins) located outside the heart and...
Stroke (Signs, Symptoms, Warning Signs)
A stroke is an interruption of the blood supply to part of the brain caused by either a blood clot (ischemic) or bleeding...
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease occurs due to the accumulation of abnormal amounts of fat within the liver. Fatty liver most...
Peripheral neuropathy is a problem with the functioning of the nerves outside of the spinal cord. Symptoms may include numbness,...
Heart disease (coronary artery disease) occurs when plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, the vessels that supply blood to...
Rhabdomyolysis is a rapid deterioration and destruction of skeletal muscle. Some of the causes of rhabdomyolysis include:...
HDL vs. LDL Cholesterol (Differences, Normal Ranges, Meanings)
HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or the "good" cholesterol, and LDL (low-density lipoprotein), or the "bad"...
Cholesterol (Lowering Your Cholesterol)
High cholesterol and triglyceride levels increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Getting your cholesterol and triglyceride...
Angina (Symptoms, Causes, Types, Diagnosis, and Treatment)
Angina is chest pain due to inadequate blood supply to the heart. Angina symptoms may include chest tightness, burning,...
Heart attack happens when a blood clot completely obstructs a coronary artery supplying blood to the heart muscle. A heart attack...
Intermittent claudication, or pain and cramping in the lower leg is caused by inadequate blood flow to the leg muscles. This lack...
Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Benefits, Uses, Foods)
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that help decrease one's cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as reduce the risk of...
Heart Disease in Women
Heart disease in women has somewhat different symptoms, risk factors, and treatment compared to heart disease in men. Many women...
Heart Attack Treatment
A heart attack involves damage or death of part of the heart muscle due to a blood clot. The aim of heart attack treatment is to...
Heart Attacks in Women
Heart disease, particularly coronary artery disease is the leading cause of heart attacks. Women are more likely to die from a...
Heart Attack Pathology: Photo Essay
A heart attack is a layperson's term for a sudden blockage of a coronary artery. This photo essay includes graphics, pictures,...
High Cholesterol: Frequently Asked Questions
Cholesterol occurs naturally in the body. High blood cholesterol levels increase a person's risk of developing heart disease,...
Stroke is the third leading killer in the United States. Some of the warning signs of stroke include sudden confusion, trouble...
How to Lower Your Cholesterol
Cholesterol is naturally produced by the body, and is a building block for cell membranes and hormones. Low-density lipoprotein...
Heart Attack Prevention
Heart disease and heart attacks can be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle with diet, exercise, and stress management....
Heart Disease Treatment in Women
Heart disease treatment in women should take into account female-specific guidelines that were developed by the American Heart...
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Food Portion Distortion FAQs
- Superfoods FAQs
- Sugar FAQs
- Fat and Fats FAQs
- Heart Disease FAQs
- Stroke FAQs
- Salt FAQs
- High Cholesterol (Hyperlipidemia) FAQs
- Protein FAQs
- Grapefruit Juice and Drug Interactions
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Medication Disposal - What to Do with Old or Unusable Medication
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
- Do Statins Raise Odds for Type 2 Diabetes?
- Many Patients Denied Costly New Cholesterol Drugs
- Statins Help Healthy People Lower Their 'Bad' Cholesterol
- Statins May Help People With COPD Live Longer
- Calcium in Arteries May Best Predict Risk of Heart Attack, Stroke
- New Cholesterol Drugs Vastly Overpriced, Study Contends
- Powerful New Cholesterol Med Won't Harm Memory, Easing Concerns
- Heart Risk Up if Hospitalized for Pneumonia or Sepsis
- Less Than Half of U.S. Stroke Patients Get Rx for Statins
- Stopping Statins After Stroke May Raise Risk of Another
- Is the 'Anti-Statin' Trend Threatening Lives?
- Vaccine Curbs High Cholesterol in Mice
- Study Hints at Link Between Some Statins, Parkinson's Risk
- Healthy Dietary Fats Help Beat High Cholesterol
- New Cholesterol Fighting Meds Target Key Gene
- Study Casts Doubt on Need for Statins in the 'Healthy Old'
- Dying Patients Often Given Medicines That Won't Help Them
- Conflicting Statin Guidelines Leave Millions in 'Gray Zone'
- Who Really Needs Blood Pressure, Cholesterol Meds?
- Guidelines May Miss Need for Statins in Many U.S. Blacks
- New Cholesterol Drugs May Beat Statins, But Price Tag Is High
- Guidelines May Miss Need for Statins in Many U.S. Blacks
- Taking Statins May Boost Heart Surgery Outcomes
- Fish Oil Pills May Help After Heart Attack, Specialists Say
- Cholesterol's Impact on Heart Attack Risk May Change With Age
- 'Red Yeast Rice' Statin Alternative Not Harmless Either, Study Says
- Many Young Adults With High Cholesterol Not on Statins as Recommended
- HIV May Double Odds of Heart Attack
- Whether Statins Cut Alzheimer's Risk May Depend on Gender, Race
- Drug Combo for Irregular Heartbeat Might Raise Bleeding Risk
- Coming Soon: Lower Cholesterol From a Twice-a-Year Shot?
- High-Dose Statins Boost Survival: Study
- Parent-Child Screening Urged for Inherited Heart Condition
- Take Meds as Directed to Boost Survival After Heart Procedures
- Statins Often Interact With Other Heart Drugs
- Are There Alternatives to Statins?
- Many With Diabetes Missing Out on Statins
- Intensive Type 2 Diabetes Treatment Can Extend Survival: Study
- Cutting Down on Sweets Can Help Kids' Hearts
- Could Statins Help Fight Cancer?
- Another Potential Use for Statins?
- Can Drugmakers Buy Doctors' Loyalty With Cheap Meals?
- Just a Little of Statins' Effect Enough to Help Heart: Study
- Statins Might Protect People With Narrowed Leg Arteries
- No Statins Before Heart Surgery, Study Suggests
- Many Heart Bypass Patients Don't Take Needed Meds
- Statins Might Not Lower Colon Cancer Risk: Study
- Could Certain Fatty Foods Be Linked to Aggressive Prostate Cancer?
- Metformin Safer for Heart Than Other Common Type 2 Diabetes Drugs: Study
- Skipping Meds Greatly Ups Heart Patients' Risk of Stroke: Study
- Statins Aid Bypass Surgery Recovery, Research Shows
- Statins May Reduce Heart Risks Linked to Sleep Apnea: Study
- Newer Blood Pressure Drugs as Good as Older Ones: Study
- Should You Be Taking Aspirin Daily?
- U.S. Task Force Backs Statins for Those 40 to 75 at Heightened Heart Risk
- People with Type 2 Diabetes May Be Overtested
- Negative News on Statins Tied to Dropped Prescriptions
- 1 in 8 American Adults Still Have High Cholesterol: CDC
- Angioplasty May Not Boost Survival for Some Heart Disease Patients
- Prescription Drug Use on the Rise in U.S.
- Statins May Dampen Protective Powers of Flu Vaccines
- No Need to Stop Taking Statins Before Surgery, Study Finds
- Heart Patients Worldwide Missing Out on Key Drugs
- Younger Women Less Likely to Take Meds After Heart Attack
- Knee, Hip Replacement Surgeries Linked to Heart Risks
- FDA Approves Second Drug in New Class of Cholesterol-Lowering Medications
- Sharp Spike Seen in Statin Use in Elderly Without Heart Disease
- Praluent Approved to Treat High Cholesterol
- FDA OKs First of New Class of Cholesterol Drugs
- Are We Taking Some Medicines for Too Long?
- Wider Use of Statin Drugs Could Save Thousands More Lives: Report
- Do Cholesterol Drugs Affect Aggression?
- Statins Might Reduce Complications After Major Lung Surgery
- Can U.S. Health-Care System Afford New, Improved Cholesterol Drugs?
- A New Way to Treat High Cholesterol?
- FDA Advisers Recommend Approval of First of 2 New Cholesterol Drugs
- Statins Pose No Greater Harm to Memory, Study Suggests
- Cholesterol Drugs May Boost Outcomes After Bypass
- Cholesterol Drugs May Lower Stroke Risk for Healthy Older Adults
- Statins May Slow Prostate Cancer Progression: Study
- Americans' Blood Triglyceride Levels Dropping: CDC
- Can Statins Help Lower Lung Cancer Death Risk?
- New Drug Class Slashes 'Bad' Cholesterol, Review Finds
- Statins Carry Some Risk for Seniors, Study Suggests
- New Guidelines Would Greatly Boost Number of Young People on Statins
- Terminally Ill Can Do Without Statins, Study Finds
- Stents Meant to Prevent Stroke May Actually Boost Risk
- Latest Diabetes Care Guidelines Focus on Individual Approach
- Experimental Drug Shows Promise in Lowering Cholesterol, Heart Attack Risk
- Statins May Help Improve Prostate Cancer Survival: Study
- Easing Depression May Boost Heart Health, Study Finds
- Statins Linked to Raised Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
- Poor Response to Statins May Mean Clogged Arteries
- 'Calculators' Doctors Use May Overestimate Heart Risks, Study Says
- Prolonged High Cholesterol in Middle Age Raises Heart Risk Later: Study
- Nearly All Diabetics Should Be on Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs: Experts
- Number of Americans Taking Statins Keeps Rising: CDC
- Daily Statin Might Raise Your Risk for Cataracts: Study
- Statins Won't Help Protect Bones, Study Finds
- Most Seniors Could Use Statins Under New Guidelines
- New Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs Show Promise
- Cholesterol Drug Vytorin Linked to Reduced Heart Attack Risk
- Experimental Cholesterol-Lowering Drug Effective, Study Reports
- Bed Position Matters for Stroke Patients, Report Shows
- Some Lung Patients Buy Cigarettes Along With Meds at Pharmacies: Study
- High Cholesterol Tied to Prostate Cancer's Return in Study
- Scientists Explain Why Statins Raise Diabetes Risk
- Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs May Help After Certain Strokes
- Heart Attack Patients Face Greater Death Risk if Any Treatment Step Missed: Study
- Older Patients More Likely to Fill Prescriptions for Generic Statins: Study
- Statins May Help Kids With Genetic Cholesterol Disorder
- Statins May Help Prevent Diabetes-Related Nerve Damage, Study Finds
- More Docs Wonder If Statins Are Worth the Risks
- Cholesterol Drugs' Benefits Far Outweigh Side Effects, Review Finds
- Statins May Aid Survival From Colon Cancer
- Cholesterol Drugs May Speed Healing After Surgery
- Is Obesity an Advantage After Heart Procedures?
- Niacin Doesn't Reduce Heart Problems, May Create Some, Research Finds
- Cholesterol Levels May Be Linked to Breast Cancer Risk
- People With Heart Disease, Diabetes May Be More Likely to Stay on Statins
- Heart Patients Without Artery Plaque Buildup Still Face Risks: Study
- Stopping Statins for Terminal Patients a Safe Option: Study
- More Americans Working to Control Blood Pressure, Cholesterol: CDC
- New Drug May Help Lower 'Bad' Cholesterol Beyond Statins
- Prescription Drug Use Continues to Climb in U.S.
- Statin Users Eating More Bad Food Than a Decade Ago, Study Shows
- Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs May Boost a Man's Sex Life: Study
- New Drug Lowers Cholesterol Beyond What Statins Can Do, Study Finds
- Many Kids May Have High Cholesterol, Regardless of Weight
- Almost 13 Million More Americans Could Take Statins Under New Guidelines
- Low-Dose Statins Good Option for Some Heart Patients: Study
- Minority Patients Less Likely to Stick With Heart Attack Meds: Study
- Design Flaws Plague Many Animal-Based Drug Studies, Researchers Say
- Statin Therapy May Prevent Delirium in Critically Ill Patients
- New Blood Pressure Guidelines Raise the Bar for Taking Medications
- Some Doctors Challenge New Statin Guidelines
- Could Vaccines Someday Improve Heart Health?
- Statins Not Linked to Memory Loss, Dementia, Review Suggests
- New Cholesterol Drug Guidelines: Q&A
- Heart Experts Warn Against 'Crash' Diets
- New Guidelines May Widen Use of Statins
- Can 'Good' Cholesterol Protect Against MS?
- Urine Test May Spot Heart, Kidney Risk in Kids With Type 1 Diabetes
- Metformin Won't Help Heart Patients Without Diabetes: Study
- Statin Use Linked to Lower Prostate Cancer Death Risk
- Some Improvement Seen in U.S. Cholesterol Levels: CDC
- Efforts to Improve Intensive-Care Outcomes Produce Mixed Results
- Cholesterol Drugs May Boost Your Gums' Health, Too
- New Cholesterol-Lowering Drug Shows Early Promise
- Statins May Not Harm Memory, Thinking After All
- Statins Linked to Raised Risk of Cataracts in Study
- Should Everyone Over 65 Take a Statin?
- High Cholesterol May Be Particularly Bad for Middle-Aged Men
- Statin Use May Reduce Parkinson's Risk, Study Says
- Drug for Pulmonary Hypertension Shows 'Modest' Benefit in Studies
- Most Statin Users Won't Have Major Side Effects
- Stronger Statins Don't Up Kidney Injury Risk, Study Finds
- Statins Plus Certain Antibiotics May Set Off Toxic Reaction: Study
- Pace of New Drug Advances May Be Slowing, Study Finds
- Cholesterol Drugs Linked to Muscle, Joint Problems: Study
- Statins May Hamper Workout Results
- Could Statins Raise Diabetes Risk?
- Cholesterol Drugs Might Boost Kidney Cancer Survival
- Statin Side Effects Often Manageable: Study
- Modest Cardiac Benefit From Chelation Therapy Not Enough to OK Use: Experts
- High-Dose Statins Linked to Acute Kidney Damage
- Niacin Won't Help, May Harm Heart Patients: Study
- Drug May Ease Angina in People With Type 2 Diabetes
- Study: Mega Vitamins Won't Help After Heart Attack, Chelation Treatment Might
- TV Ads for Statins May Drive Overtreatment
- Niacin-Statin Combo May Cause Side Effects for Heart Patients
- Healthy Diet May Prevent Additional Heart Trouble
- Statins Plus Exercise Best at Lowering Cholesterol, Study Finds
- New Drug to Lower 'Bad' Cholesterol Shows Promise
- Transcendental Meditation May Lower Heart Risk
- Statins Linked to Reduced Cancer Death
- New Drug May Help Those Who Can't Take Statins
- Many Older Heart Attack Survivors Don't Stick With Meds
- Cholesterol Levels Down Among U.S. Adults
- Statins Tied to Reduced Glaucoma Risk
- Many Heart Attacks May Go Unrecognized in Seniors
- Statin Use Tied to Possible Boost in Cataract Risk
- Statins Won't Hurt, Might Even Help, Your Pancreas: Study
- Statin Diabetes Risk Limited to Those at High Risk
- Fish Oil Doesn't Lower Heart Risk in Diabetics
- The Health Benefits, and Risks, of Alcohol
- Statins May Work Better in Men Than in Women
- Fish Oil Won't Save Diabetics' Hearts, Research Suggests
- Study: Statins May Be Linked to Fatigue
- Daily Low-Dose Aspirin Risks Seem to Outweigh Gains for Many: Study
- Some Cholesterol Drugs May Slow Prostate Growth
- Benefits of Widespread Statin Use Outweigh Risks: Study
- Statins May Help Prevent Irregular Heartbeat in Elderly
- Rate of Statin-Linked Muscle Woes Unclear, Study Suggests
- Cholesterol Levels in the U.S. on the Decline
- Role of Screening, Monitoring in Early Kidney Disease Unclear
- Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients Who Quit Statins May Face Raised Death Risk
- New Injection Might Lower Tough-to-Treat Cholesterol
- Biologic Drug Lowers LDL Cholesterol
- Showing Patients Images of Their Clogged Arteries a Powerful Wake-Up Call
- Low 'Bad' Cholesterol Levels May Be Linked to Cancer Risk
- Statin Alternative Looks Promising in Early Trials
- Test May Spot Heart Attacks Before They Happen
- Could Statins Help Prevent Pneumonia?
- Depression Tied to Earlier Death in Heart Patients
- Can Statins Prevent Parkinson's Disease?
- Statin Risks Outweighed by Statin Benefits
- Could a Statin Lower Your Risk for Depression?
- New Warnings on Cholesterol-Lowering Statins
- Heart Disease May Be Risk Factor for Prostate Cancer
- It's 'Buyer Beware' When Getting Statins Off the Internet
- Statins Equally Effective in Women and Men
- Statins May Stave Off Liver Cancer in People With Hepatitis B
- Statins May Raise Diabetes Risk in Older Women
- Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs Tied to Flu Survival
- Generic Lipitor FAQ
- Heart Attack Complications More Likely for Women Smokers
- Raising 'Good' Cholesterol May Cut Heart Risk in Diabetes Patients
- FDA Limits Highest Dose of Cholesterol Drug Statin (Includes Zocor, Vytorin, Simcor)
- Trial Stopped After Niacin Brings No Benefit to Heart Patients
- Many Heart Patients Aren't Taking Needed Drugs
- 'Mini-Strokes' May Increase Risk of Heart Attack
- Osteoporosis Drugs Linked to Lower Cancer Risk
- Where Do the Most Active People Live?
- New Debate on C-Reactive Protein Test and Statins
- Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs May Cut RA Risk
- Cholesterol Study: Low HDL May Not Be So Bad
- Stroke Patients Discharged Without Statins
- Statins May Lower Testosterone, Libido
- Should Healthy People Take Statins?
- FDA Warns of Zocor Risk to Muscles
- Statins May Be Linked to Diabetes Risk
Daily Health News
Subscribe to MedicineNet's Heart Health Newsletter
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Top Statins Related Articles
Cataract SurgeryCataract surgery is a surgical procedure in which a small incision is made in the surface of the eye in or near the cornea and a thin ultrasound probe is inserted into the eye so ultrasonic vibrations can dissolve the clouded lens. These tiny pieces are sucked out through the probe and an artificial lens is placed in the space the cataract occupied.
Cholesterol SlideshowDo you know the different cholesterol levels and what they mean? Learn the alphabet soup of cholesterol testing: LDL, HDL, good, bad, and triglycerides. Pictures show tests, treatments, and critical foods from eggs to avocados.
Cholesterol PictureCholesterol carried in particles of low density (LDL cholesterol) is referred to as the "bad" cholesterol because elevated levels of LDL cholesterol are associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. See a picture of Cholesterol and learn more about the health topic.
Cholesterol TestA cholesterol blood test measures the amount of cholesterol in the body. There are two types of cholesterol; the "good" cholesterol or HDL, and the "bad" cholesterol or LDL. High cholesterol levels in the blood can lead to heart attack, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. Learn more about cholesterol tests and how to interpret them.
Fatty LiverNonalcoholic fatty liver disease occurs due to the accumulation of abnormal amounts of fat within the liver. Fatty liver most likely caused by obesity and diabetes. Symptoms of fatty liver disease are primarily the complications of cirrhosis of the liver; and may include:
- mental changes,
- liver cancer,
- the accumulation of fluid in the body (ascites, edema), and
- gastrointestinal bleeding.
- weight loss, and
- bariatric surgery.
Heart Disease (Coronary Artery Disease)
Heart disease (coronary artery disease) occurs when plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, the vessels that supply blood to the heart. Heart disease can lead to heart attack. Risk factors for heart disease include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Family history
Angina, shortness of breath, and sweating are just a few symptoms that may indicate a heart attack. Treatment of heart disease involves control of heart disease risk factors through lifestyle changes, medications, and/or stenting or bypass surgery. Heart disease can be prevented by controlling heart disease risk factors.
CAD SlideshowWhat is heart disease (coronary artery disease)? Learn about the causes of heart disease. Symptoms of heart disease include chest pain and shortness of breath. Explore heart disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
Heart Disease QuizTake our Heart Disease Quiz to get answers and facts about high cholesterol, atherosclerosis prevention, and the causes, symptoms, treatments, testing, and procedures for medically broken hearts.
Heart SymptomsHeart attacks symptoms vary greatly for men and women, from anxiety and fatigue to nausea and sweating. Learn the warning signs of a heart attack and know the symptoms that may require an immediate trip to the hospital.
Liver Blood TestsAn initial step in detecting liver damage is a simple blood test to determine the presence of certain liver enzymes in the blood. Under normal circumstances, these enzymes reside within the cells of the liver. But when the liver is injured, these enzymes are spilled into the blood stream, and can lead to diseases like fatty liver, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and hepatitis. Several medications also can increase liver enzyme test results.
Liver DiseaseLiver disease can be cause by a variety of things including infection (hepatitis), diseases such as:
- high cholesterol or triglycerides,
- blood flow obstruction to the liver, and
- toxins (medications and chemicals).
- upper right abdominal pain, and
Lower Cholesterol TipsNeed to lower your cholesterol levels? Use these smart diet tips to quickly and easily lower your blood cholesterol levels. Choose heart-healthy foods to lower cholesterol and improve your heart health.
Peripheral NeuropathyPeripheral neuropathy is a problem with the functioning of the nerves outside of the spinal cord. Symptoms may include numbness, weakness, burning pain (especially at night), and loss of reflexes. Possible causes may include carpel tunnel syndrome, meralgia paresthetica, vitamin or nutritional deficiencies, and illnesses like diabetes, syphilis, AIDS, and kidney failure. Most causes of peripheral neuropathy can be successfully treated or prevented.
Peripheral Vascular Disease
Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) refers to diseases of the blood vessels (arteries and veins) located outside the heart and brain. While there are many causes of peripheral vascular disease, doctors commonly use the term peripheral vascular disease to refer to peripheral artery disease (peripheral arterial disease, PAD), a condition that develops when the arteries that supply blood to the internal organs, arms, and legs become completely or partially blocked as a result of atherosclerosis. Peripheral artery disease symptoms include intermittent leg pain while walking, leg pain at rest, numbness in the legs or feet, and poor wound healing in the legs or feet.
Treatment for peripheral artery disease include lifestyle measures, medication, angioplasty, and surgery.
RhabdomyolysisRhabdomyolysis is a rapid deterioration and destruction of skeletal muscle. Some of the causes of rhabdomyolysis include:
- severe burns,
- muscle trauma,
- electrolyte imbalance,
- medications (statins),
- viruses, and
Take the Salt QuizDo you love salt? Take the online Salt Quiz to get the facts about dietary salts and sodium in fruits, vegetables, processed foods, snacks and soups!
Take the Stroke QuizTake the Stroke Quiz to learn about stroke risks, causes, treatment, and most importantly, prevention.
Stroke Symptoms and Treatment
A stroke is an interruption of the blood supply to part of the brain caused by either a blood clot (ischemic) or bleeding (hemorrhagic). Symptoms of a stroke may include
- double vision or vision loss,
- vertigo, and
- difficulty speaking or understanding speech.
A physical exam, imaging tests, neurological exam, and blood tests may be used to diagnose a stroke. Treatment may include administration of clot-busting drugs, supportive care, and in some instances, neurosurgery. The risk of stroke can be reduced by controlling high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and stopping smoking.