February 01, 2016

Four Common Myths about Statin Drugs

Physicians prescribe statins to patients at risk of heart disease for their ability to lower cholesterol levels in the blood by blocking the liver enzyme that produces cholesterol. They lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, total cholesterol levels and triglycerides while increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. Although statins have beneficial health qualities, there are myths about how statins affect the human body. Here we debunk four myths about statins.

Myth #1: Statins cause memory loss.

Fact: Studies conclude that statins have a protective quality against dementia with long-term use. Also, statins are said to preserve memory by fighting off strokes.

Myth #2: Statins affect the ability to exercise.

Fact: Both statins and exercise are good for your health. In fact, statins increase endothelial function by strengthening the lining of blood vessels. Mixed with exercise, this will improve circulation and lower heart disease risk. There is a small number of patients, approximately 10%, who experience muscle aches while taking statins. A change in the type of statin you are prescribed can eliminate such issues. Ask your physician.

Myth #3: Statins cause heart damage.

Fact: The West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Trial was the first study to conclude that taking statins could prevent heart disease in people not yet diagnosed with heart problems. After just five years of the trial, there were 35% less heart-related deaths. Heart attack risks also decreased among the statin test group. At the 20-year mark, the study concluded that the statin group had a 31% lower risk of heart failure.

Myth #4: Diabetic patients should not take statins.

Fact: In recent years, doctors have found that diabetic patients are four times likely to suffer from a heart-related problem. Due to this, two studies were conducted to determine whether or not diabetic patients could benefit from statin drugs. The first study was the Collaborative Atorvastatin Diabetes Study (CARDS). This involved 3,000 people with type 2 diabetes from age 40 to 75 who took a 10mg dose of a statin daily. Researchers determined the risk of heart attack dropped by 37% and stroke by 48% for the participants in this study. A second study was the Heart Protection Study (HPS) that involved 6,000 people from age 40 to 80. Researchers found that both heart attacks and strokes were cut by 1/3 when patients have prescribed a 40mg dose daily.

Learn more about Baptist Health Heart Care.

Learn More.