- By Deb Balzer
Statins: What You Need to Know
Journalists: Video is available in the downloads. [TRT 2:16] Click here for the transcript.
Almost 1 out of 3. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that's how many people in the United States have high cholesterol. Your body needs cholesterol, which is made in the liver, to build healthy cells. But too much "bad" cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein (LDL), can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. How can you lower those numbers? Mayo Clinic cardiologist Dr. Stephen Kopecky says in addition to a heart-healthy lifestyle, statins are an option. He says statins are beneficial especially for:
- People who've had heart attacks
- People who have diabetes
- Those who are at increased risk of heart attack and stroke
- Those who have a genetic tendency toward high cholesterol
Recent studies show a surge in statin use for people over age 79, and Dr. Kopecky says even though there is not enough data to know exactly how statins affect that group of people, "For many of those patients, statins can lower the risk of heart attack by about a third. If a patient over age 79 were to have a heart attack and would be a candidate for aggressive therapy such as angioplasty or stent, then it would be reasonable to try to prevent the heart attack with a statin." He also says statins are not without risk, as they can cause side effects such as muscle aches. But for people with high cholesterol, statins are a tool that can help prevent heart attacks and strokes.