Statins are drugs used to lower cholesterol. Your body needs some cholesterol to work properly. But if you have too much in your blood, it can stick to the walls of your arteries and narrow or even block them.
If diet and exercise don't reduce your cholesterol levels, you may need to take cholesterol medicine. Often, this medicine is a statin. Statins interfere with the production of cholesterol in your liver. They lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels. This can slow the formation of plaques in your arteries.
Statins are relatively safe for most people. But they are not recommended for pregnant patients or those with active or chronic liver disease. They can also cause serious muscle problems. Some statins also interact adversely with other drugs. You may have fewer side effects with one statin drug than another.
Researchers are also studying the use of statins for other conditions.
Food and Drug Administration
- Cholesterol and Statins (Food and Drug Administration) Also in Spanish
- Statins: Are These Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs Right for You? (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Are You Taking the Right Treatment for Your High Cholesterol? (Consumers Union of U.S.)
- Controlling Cholesterol with Statins (Food and Drug Administration)
- Rhabdomyolysis from Statins: What's the Risk? (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Statin Side Effects: Weigh the Benefits and Risks (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Statins and Cancer Prevention (National Cancer Institute)
- Statins and Risk of New-Onset Diabetes Mellitus (American Heart Association)
- Statins: Do They Cause ALS? (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
Statistics and Research
- Research Finds Link Between Statin Use and Progressive Muscle Disease (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Comparative efficacy and safety of lipid-lowering agents in patients with hypercholesterolemia:...
- Article: Efficacy and safety of statin therapy in older people: a meta-analysis...
- Article: Statin therapy and erythropoiesis-stimulating agent hyporesponsiveness in patients with nondialysis chronic...
- Statins -- see more articles