• Cardiovascular

    Mayo Clinic Minute: Who benefits from taking statins?

If you're at risk of heart disease, your healthcare team might use the pooled cohort equation (PCE) tool to determine your long-term risk and whether taking statins — cholesterol-lowering medication — is a good option.

Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, says it's important to understand who benefits the most from statins.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video pkg (1:06) is in the downloads at the end of the post. Please courtesy: "Mayo Clinic News Network." Read the script.

Statins are medications that reduce the amount of cholesterol made by the liver.

"Cholesterol builds within plaques that accumulate and grow inside the arteries, sometimes to the point that those arteries will be blocked," says Dr. Lopez-Jimenez.

A medical illustration of cholesterol plaque in an artery.

And blocked arteries can lead to coronary heart disease. But are statins for everyone? 

"The patients that will benefit from taking statins the most will be individuals with history of heart attacks, strokes and other conditions known to be caused by cholesterol plaques," he says.

Diet also plays an important role. Dr. Lopez-Jimenez says to eat less processed meat and more grains, fruits and vegetables.

"The most impactful changes people can make to lower cholesterol will include consuming less animal products other than fish, consuming less saturated fat," he says.

And if your healthcare team recommends medication as well as lifestyle changes?

"Take those medications, check your numbers, be sure that all those factors are well under control,” says Dr. Lopez-Jimenez.

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