A new research study published in The Lancet suggests that statin drugs that treat high cholesterol are more safe than previously labeled. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are an estimated 70 million American adults that have high bad cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Having high levels of LDL can significantly increase an individual's risk for developing heart disease that can result in heart attacks, stroke, and even death.
Statins were first discovered by Japanese biochemist Akira Endo but were never brought to market because of the risk associated with developing tumors. It wasn’t until 1987 when Merck Pharmaceuticals developed a safer version of the drug compound lovastatin that the drug was marketed as a way to lower LDL cholesterol and preserve heart health.
Some of the newest statin drugs, like Livalo, are recommended for patients at significant risk for heart attacks. Though doctors warn about statin intolerance and the potential for muscle loss and liver injuries that have kept many patients from taking these types of medications. New research, however, suggests that these warnings were overstated and that statins are more safe than previously categorized.
|Livalo is a new statin drug recommended for patients at significant risk for heart attacks.|
Statins Reduce Risk for Heart Disease
A team of researchers at the University of Oxford reviewed randomized controlled trials of patients taking statins and monitored the outcomes to analyze the benefits and risks of using statins. After reviewing the data from numerous trials, scientists revealed that in patients who used statins to lower one millimole per liter of bad cholesterol, the risk of heart attacks and other serious cardiovascular events went down by as much as 25%. This reduction was significant in patients who had been taking statins for more than a year.
But are statins right for everyone? That depends on your medical history. According to the latest guidelines set by the FDA, patients considering statins should have routine blood tests to check for certain blood enzymes to determine the safety of the statins. Some of the risks associated with taking statins include a condition called myopathy that damages muscle tissues. The FDA states that muscle damage could be associated with taking statins in combination with other drug therapies that may use the same pathways in the body. Because of this, the FDA is currently reviewing labeling. While the occurrence of liver damage is rare, you should report fatigue, appetite loss, abdominal discomfort and yellowing of the skin or eyes if you're taking statins.
While this newest study suggests that statins are safe, it is important to note these types of medications work best alongside diet and exercise. You should consider your risk for heart attacks and other cardiovascular events to determine if the risks of statins are worth the potential benefits of the therapy. Additionally, you can use HelpRx coupons to lower the cost of the latest statin therapies like Livalo, as well as FDA-approved generics.