Should You Take A Statin Drug?

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

If you have a history of cardiovascular problems, like heart attack and stroke, you are likely aware of statins, the ever-so-popular popular medications usually prescribed to help you should you take a statin drug?maintain good cholesterol levels.  

Commonly prescribed statins include Zocor (simvastatin), Lipitor (avorastatin), Mevacor (lovastatin), Pravachol (pravastatin), Lescol (fluvastatin), and Crestor (rosuvastatin calcium). In selected patients, statin drugs can improve quality of life and may even save your life.

In addition to their ability lower LDL cholesterol levels, statin drugs have been known to help stabilize plaque in acute coronary syndromes, so it’s logical to me that they have a probable impact on the calcification process and may also prevent plaque ruptures.

Studies have found that patients on statins are less likely to suffer from heart attacks and strokes.  

One study found that patients who were on statins when they were hospitalized for acute coronary events and had these medications discontinued while in the hospital were nearly three times as likely to have a non-fatal heart attack or die as their counterparts who continued to take their statins. Something about statins obviously assists in stabilizing unstable plaques.

And in a study at the VA Hospital in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, doctors found that the risk of stroke was greatest among patients not taking statins. Treatment with a statin drug significantly lessened the risk.

Based on the research, I believe the integrative medical community agrees that statin therapy has an important place in the treatment of cardiovascular disease. In patients with a history of heart attack, stent, bypass, or angioplasty, or inflammatory markers such as high CRP levels or high coronary calcium scores, statins may be a reasonable intervention, regardless of one’s cholesterol level. In fact, I’m convinced that taking statins after a heart attack reduces your risk of recurrent coronary events because of their ability to reduce inflammation rather than lower cholesterol.

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