Statins are a class of medication used to lower blood cholesterol levels. When blood cholesterol levels are high, particularly levels of "bad" cholesterol, or LDL, you are at a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Making diet and lifestyle changes like quitting smoking and exercising more can help lower blood cholesterol levels. But some people still need drugs like statins and other cholesterol-lowering medications to bring their levels under control.
More About Statins
Cholesterol-lowering drugs work in different ways. For example, some actually block the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream, while others promote its disposal in the body’s waste. Statins are different in that they actually work in the liver to prevent the formation of cholesterol in the first place. This can have a significant effect on lowering LDL cholesterol as well as triglycerides, which are also harmful blood particles. Statins might also have a modest effect on raising levels of the body’s "good" cholesterol, or HDL.
Statins are sold under many different names, including simvastatin (Zocor), rosuvastatin (Crestor), pravastatin (Pravachol), lovastatin (Mevacor), fluvastatin (Lescol) and atorvastatin (Lipitor). Statin drugs are also sometimes combined with other medications to address other heart issues.
Benefits and Risks of Statins
Statins are popular because they are generally safe and cause relatively few side effects. What’s more, the side effects that do occur often go away in a short period of time. There is some risk of muscle or liver problems, but these are rare. However, people with liver problems or who are pregnant are advised not to take statins.
SOURCE: American Heart Association