New research urges wider use of cholesterol drugs

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

HOUSTON, TX – Most folks hear the word “statin” and the next thing that comes to mind is Staten Island. But millions of folks in the U.S. who are at risk of heart attack or stroke are about to become a lot more familiar with the term.

“Statins are medications used to decrease cholesterol,” Dr. Kota Reddy explains. “Statins basically act on the liver. The liver produces cholesterol, statin acts on the enzyme in the liver which produces cholesterol and blocks it.”

The American College of Cardiology, along with the American Heart Association, is shifting gears in the way statins, or cholesterol-lowering-drugs like Lipitor and Crestor, are prescribed, saying they should be used more widely to prevent heart-attacks and stroke, even for folks who are otherwise healthy.

“It has been consistently shown that taking statins decreases the risk of strokes and heart attacks,” Dr. Reddy says, “but you have to go back and look at the cause. What causes heart attacks? Bad diet.”

The change could nearly double the number of folks taking statins nationwide. But the new protocols aren’t without risk, there are side effects that come with taking any drug, making the regimen a tougher sell for those otherwise healthy folks.

“For some, it’s been shown that they also have loss of memory, confusion, it also increases the chance of developing diabetes.”

But still, doctors say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.