Heart Health: “Statins” Are Beneficial Only With Healthy Diets & Lifestyle

Taking a statin helps keep your cholesterol levels in check. How can that be?

Mayo Clinic LogoDr. Stephen Kopecky explains that some people ask to be put on a statin. That’s because statins, while important and effective, are just one part of the whole heart-healthy picture. When you combine a statin with regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, controlling stress, not smoking and eating foods based on the Mediterranean diet, you can improve your heart health.

Dr. Kopecky says if you work in lifestyle changes slowly over time, you’ll be on your way to better heart health.

Statins are drugs that can lower your cholesterol. They work by blocking a substance your body needs to make cholesterol. Statins may also help your body reabsorb cholesterol that has built up in plaques on your artery walls, preventing further blockage in your blood vessels and heart attacks.

Several statins are available for use in the United States. They include:

  • atorvastatin (Lipitor)
  • lovastatin (Altoprev)
  • pitavastatin (Livalo)
  • pravastatin (Pravachol)
  • rosuvastatin (Crestor)
  • simvastatin (Zocor)

Sometimes, a statin is combined with another heart health medication. Examples are atorvastatin/amlodipine (Caduet) and simvastatin/ezetimibe (Vytorin).

Increasing evidence suggests that statins do more than just lower bad cholesterol. Research has found that the medicines can safely prevent heart disease in certain adults ages 40 to 75. But the benefits aren’t entirely clear for the elderly. And doctors still want to know more about the side effects of statins.

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