New Recommendations for Statins in Adults
If you’re over 40, your doctor may talk with you about adding a statin to prevent heart disease. Statins (like Crestor, Zocor and Lipitor) are a class of medications that lower cholesterol levels. The US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF), a government-backed group that establishes health recommendations, is now suggesting that statins be used for the primary prevention of heart disease in adults. This means that statins can be used to prevent strokes or heart attacks, even if you have never had one in the past. Eighteen studies evaluated the use of statins versus no treatment in adults who met the criteria. Low- to moderate-dose statins were associated with a lower risk of stroke, heart attack, heart disease, and death.
Those who may benefit from a low- to moderate-dose statin are adults ages 40-75 years, who have at least one heart disease risk factor (such as high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, or smoking), and have a high risk of having a cardiovascular event over the next 10 years. Your healthcare provider will need to evaluate if a statin is appropriate for you.
Commonly Prescribed Statin Medications
Some of the most commonly prescribed statins that are approved for use in the U.S. include:
- rosuvastatin (Crestor)
- atorvastatin (Lipitor)
- fluvastatin (Lescol, Lescol XL)
- pitavastatin (Livalo)
- lovastatin (Mevacor, Altoprev)
- pravastatin (Pravachol)
- simvastatin (Zocor)
Taking Statins? Things to Watch For
If you’re new to taking statin medications, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Common adverse effects of statin medications are muscle pain and weakness.
- Let your doctor or pharmacist know if you have any liver problems, are pregnant or breast-feeding, or if you’re taking any antiviral or antifungal medications.
- In rare cases, rhabdomyolysis may occur. This is recognized as debilitating muscle pain associated with dark-colored urine. Be sure to contact your doctor if this occurs.
- Avoid grapefruit and grapefruit-containing products.
- Statins also work best if you take them in the evening.
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