The family of medications known as statins are used for several reasons. Most often, they are prescribed for hyperlipidemia, also known as high cholesterol. While they are traditionally referred to as cholesterol lowering medications, they are also frequently prescribed to patients with a history of coronary heart disease or strokes, regardless of what the patient’s cholesterol level. The statin family includes multiple common medications including atorvastatin (aka Lipitor), rosuvastatin (aka Crestor), pravastatin (aka Lipostat), simvastatin (aka Zocor), as well as a handful of other less widely used options. In general, this whole family of medications is very effective and safe for treating high cholesterol, heart disease, and strokes.
Common Questions About Statins:
Q: I have heard statin can cause muscle pains, is that true?
A: Like all medications, statins do have potential side effects. Most of the possible side effects to statins are rare, and when they do occur, are typically minor. That said, the answer is yes – statins can cause muscle pain in certain people. However, the vast majority of patients who take statins do not have this experience.
Q: I have heard that there are non-stain medications available to lower cholesterol. Why not use one of the others?
A: In general, statin medications are much more effective for lowering LDL levels (“bad cholesterol”) over the alternative medications. While statins can lower LDL levels up to 30-60%, most alternative options do not work even half as well.
Q: Will I need to take it the rest of my life?
A: In general, most patients who are started on a statin choose to continue indefinitely, though this is not necessarily always the case.
Q: I have heard statin cause dementia, is that true?
A: Not likely. There have been rare case reports of stain-induced cognitive changes. However, no large-scale, high-quality study has demonstrated definitively that statins cause memory issues or dementia. In fact, there are studies that show the opposite – that statins can actually prevent dementia and cognitive decline. This is likely due to statins’ preventive effects against strokes, and thus, vascular dementia. Unfortunately, popular media has significantly exaggerated any rare claims of statin-induced cognitive changes reported by patients. This has resulted in a general mistrust of statin medications by the general public.
If you have questions or concerns regarding any medication, please consult with your primary care provider. To schedule an appointment with a Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital provider, please call: Cuba Clinic 573-885-6600, Sullivan Clinic 573-860-6000, Bourbon Clinic 573-732-5140 or the Steelville Clinic 573-775-4600.