Many doctors are prescribing statins to lower cholesterol in their patients. High cholesterol is one of the many risk factors that are associated with heart disease. Statins generally act quickly to reduce cholesterol but results vary from patient to patient.
Introduced to the market in 1987, statins have become one of the most widely used medications to treat high cholesterol and controlling cholesterol is one main way to prevent heart disease.
How Statins Work
In many patients, healthy diets and exercise is not enough to lower cholesterol. These patients may be put on statin therapy. Statins work by reducing the formation of artery-clogging plaque. They often reduce LDL or bad cholesterol by up to 50% and increase a patient’s HDL or good cholesterol by up to 15%.
Maximizing Statin Results
The effectiveness of statins can be affected by patient lifestyle. Patients who make healthy lifestyle modifications (frequent exercise and a low-fat/low-cholesterol diet) can often see a reduction in their cholesterol as early as two weeks after starting statin therapy. A diet that is low in saturated fats and cholesterol slows down the formation of "fatty" plaque more quickly than a patient who continues a diet high in fats.
Statins and Heart Disease
In combination with a healthy lifestyle, statins lower cholesterol levels and also reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular events.
Maximum results from statin therapy may take up to four to six weeks. During this time, patients must continue to practice a healthy lifestyle and continue to take their statin medications daily.