Do I Need a Statin?

By Libby Pellegrini MMS, PA-C

April 30, 2020

cholesterol

Statins represent one of the most commonly prescribed medication categories in the United States. In fact, two of the top five prescribed drugs in 2018 were statins.

Though they are ubiquitous, it is not immediately obvious who should be taking a statin in the first place. Read on to learn more about statins and whether you should discuss this type of therapy with your healthcare provider.

What Is a Statin?

A statin is a medication used to lower blood cholesterol levels and thereby prevent the formation of cholesterol-laden plaques in the arteries of the heart. By taking a statin to lower your blood cholesterol, you can reduce your risk of developing heart disease, and potentially avoid the unsavory problems associated with heart disease, such as heart attack and stroke.

How Do Statins Work?

Statins work by blocking an enzyme in the liver that is involved in the production of cholesterol. Statins are generally the first line of medication that is considered by healthcare providers when it comes to helping patients lower their cholesterol levels. Statins can be particularly effective when it comes to lowering a specific type of cholesterol known as low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the so-called “bad” cholesterol. Most statins are taken orally, on a daily basis.

How Do I Know If I Need a Statin?

To determine whether or not you need a statin, your healthcare provider will examine your overall health status and cardiovascular risk. He or she can use a risk assessment calculator  to establish your personal risk of developing heart disease over the next 10 years. This calculation will take into account such factors as your age, sex, race, blood pressure, current cholesterol levels, whether you have diabetes, and whether you smoke cigarettes.

Other important considerations when it comes to cardiovascular risk assessment include your family history, your weight, and your lifestyle. If you have known coronary artery disease (plaques in your arteries), diabetes, very high cholesterol levels, or a high calculated risk, your healthcare provider is more likely to recommend a statin.

What is the Official Recommendation on Statins?

The United States Preventive Services Task Force USPSTF) recommends that a statin be prescribed for people ages 40 to 75 without a history of cardiovascular disease who are calculated to have a 10 percent or greater risk of having a cardiovascular event within the next 10 years.

If your cardiovascular risk is determined to be low, a statin may not be necessary. However, regardless of your age or cardiovascular risk, lifestyle factors are critical when it comes to maintaining your cardiovascular health.

The American Heart Association recommends the following to optimize your cardiovascular health:

  • Eat a diet high in vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and fish
  • Reduce your intake of saturated fats, trans fats, red meats, processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and added sugar
  • Get 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity five times a week
  • Do not smoke cigarettes
  • Keep conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes well-controlled

What Are the Downsides of Taking a Statin?

Every prescription medication carries a risk of side effects, and statins are no exception. Statins are notorious for causing muscle pain and soreness. Rarely, statins can cause a more serious muscle condition called rhabdomyolysis, in which excessive muscle cell breakdown can damage the kidneys.

Statins are also known to raise blood sugar, sometimes tipping people into a prediabetic or diabetic state. Make sure to discuss the risks and benefits of statin therapy with your healthcare provider to ensure that you feel confident taking the medication.

What Should I Do If I’m Prescribed a Statin?

If, after a thorough conversation about the potential risks and benefits of statins, your healthcare provider prescribes you this medication, take action to lock in the best prescription price. You can use a ScriptSave® WellRx savings card to find the lowest price for your statin, and other medications, too.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6025009/

http://tools.acc.org/ASCVD-Risk-Estimator-Plus/#!/calculate/estimate/

https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/document/RecommendationStatementFinal/statin-use-in-adults-preventive-medication

http://www.onlinejacc.org/sites/default/files/additional_assets/guidelines/Prevention-Guidelines-Made-Simple.pdf

Libby Pellegrini is a nationally certified physician assistant. She currently works in emergency medicine where she sees and treats a broad spectrum of illnesses across all age ranges. She holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University.

Save as you go
Save on the Go

For your convenience, use the ScriptSave® WellRx mobile app. Now savings are well in hand, right at the pharmacy counter. Save on your family's prescription medicines.

Learn More
Card
Get a Prescription Discount Card

Your choice. Get a ScriptSave WellRx Savings Card. Or Download the free mobile app from the App Store or Google Plage Store

Get A Card
Save on your medications today!
Grocery Guidance

ScriptSave WellRx Grocery Guidance brings together leading-edge nutritional data science with AI powered personalization to help you know which food products on your grocery store shelf are truly good for YOU.

Healthy Foods For You

Struggling to afford your medications? Search to compare the cash price at pharmacies near you. You may find prices lower than your insurance co-pay!

WellRx on TrustPilot ©

Log In

You need to log into the site to use this feature

Create A Free Account To Use Medicine Chest

This feature requires registration. Sign up or log in to your free WellRx account to gain access to this and other tools to help make managing your medications and wellness easier.

Benefits Include:

Store & manage your medication list
Medication pricing updates
Import medication from your pharmacy
Medication information & videos
Pill & refill reminders
Medication journal & mood log
Ask a Pharmacist

Sign up to use Medicine Chest

Create A Free Account To Use this feature

This feature requires registration. Sign up or log in to your free WellRx account to gain access to this and other tools to help make managing your medications and wellness easier.

Benefits Include:

Store & manage your medication list
Medication pricing updates
Import medication from your pharmacy
Medication information & videos
Pill & refill reminders
Medication journal & mood log
Ask a Pharmacist

Sign up to use this feature

You will be redirected to your program in 5 seconds.

Hi there.

Our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy have recently been updated.

Learn More


I Accept

By declining you will be logged out of your account