Statins may be your best hope for avoiding a heart attack if you have high cholesterol that you can not lower through simple diet and exercise. Lovastatin (Mevacor), simvastatin (Zocor), fluvastatin (Lescol), paravastatin (pravachol) and atorvastatin (Lipitor) are some examples of statin drugs used to lower your cholesterol levels. These medications help lower your LDL (or "bad") cholesterol level by about 30 to 50 percent.
A patient at several different stages along the road to a heart attack can really be helped by statins. For patients who already suffer from coronary heart disease, this drug is actually even more valuable. A recent study has shown that fatal heart attacks can be reduced by more than 40 percent by simply taking simvastatin under careful prescription.
Who should be taking statins?
Anyone with an HDL level of 40 or above and an LDL level less than 100 milligrams per deciliter is considered to be a healthy person, from this point of view. However, many people, fall out of line and it gets even worse if other heart attack risks are involved – like for example if the person is a smoker or simply has high blood pressure. Other risks can involve a family history of heart disease, or if you're over 50 years old. In this case you should probably test your cholesterol blood levels as soon as possible to see if the LDL and HDL are at optimal levels. Actually, if you have different and multiple risk factors or you have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, you should do anything possible to keep your LDL cholesterol level under 100 mg / dL even if you need drugs to get there.
Are there any other cholesterol lowering drugs?
Cholesterol can be improved not only by statins. For example, if you have a low HDL ("good") cholesterol level, your doctor may prescribe niacin instead of or in addition to a statin. Niacin will give your HDL level a bigger boost than that of statins, which can usually just slightly elevate your HDL. Likewise, you may need gemfibrozil which is a fibrate drug that is prescribed whenever your triglyceride (another type of fat in the blood) level is too high. Statins tend to cause less side effects than niacin and gemfibrozil, and this is why it is highly recommended to ask your doctor about any side effects that might appear.
Although statins may be useful in several cases of high cholesterol levels, we advise people to look in to the natural ways of improving and balancing out their cholesterol levels. Doing so could potentially avoid nasty side effects while at the same time getting your health to optimal levels naturally.