How to take statins
Statins are medicines that help lower the amount of cholesterol and other fats in your blood. Statins work by:
Statins block how your liver makes cholesterol. Cholesterol can stick to the walls of your arteries and narrow or block them.
Antilipemic Agent; HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors; Atorvastatin (Lipitor®); Simvastatin (Zocor®); Lovastatin (Mevacor®, Altoprev®); Pravastatin (Pravachol®); Rosuvastatin (Crestor®); Fluvastatin (Lescol®); Hyperlipidemia - statins; Hardening of the arteries statins; Cholesterol - statins; Hypercholesterolemia - statins; Dyslipidemia -statins; Statin
How do Statins Help?
Improving your cholesterol levels can help protect you from heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Your health care provider will work with you to lower your cholesterol by improving your diet. If this is not successful, medicines to lower cholesterol may be the next step.
Statins are often the first drug treatment for high cholesterol. Both adults and teenagers can take statins when needed.
What Statins are Right for you?
There are different brands of statin drugs, including less expensive, generic forms. For most people, any of the statin drugs will work to lower cholesterol levels. However, some people may need the more powerful types.
A statin may be prescribed along with other medicines. Combination tablets are also available. They include a statin plus medicine to manage another condition, such as high blood pressure.
How are Statins Taken?
Take your medicine as directed. The medicine comes in tablet or capsule form. DO NOT open capsules, or break or chew tablets, before taking the medicine.
You take statins once a day. Some should be taken at night, but others can be taken anytime. They come in different doses, depending on how much you need to lower your cholesterol. DO NOT stop taking your medicine without talking with your provider first.
Read the label on the bottle carefully. Some brands should be taken with food. Others may be taken with, or without food.
Store all of your medicines in a cool, dry place. Keep them where children cannot get to them.
You should follow a healthy diet while taking statins. This includes eating less fat in your diet. Other ways you can help your heart include:
What are the Risks?
Before you start taking statins, tell your provider if:
Tell your provider about all of your medications, supplements, vitamins, and herbs. Certain medicines may interact with statins. Be sure to tell your provider before taking any new medicines.
Overall, there is no need to avoid moderate amounts of grapefruit in the diet. An 8 ounce (240 mL) glass or one grapefruit can be safely consumed.
Regular blood tests will help you and your provider:
Possible Side Effects
Mild side effects may include:
Though rare, more serious side effects are possible. Your provider will monitor you for signs. Talk with your provider about the possible risks for:
When to Call the Doctor
Tell your provider right away if you have:
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Semenkovich CF. Disorders of lipid metabolism. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 206.
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Review Date: 2/18/2018
Reviewed By: Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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