Heart Health and Cholesterol Medication: What Do You Need To Know?

Patients may have questions about taking medications called statins to manage their cholesterol.

Statins, when used correctly, can dramatically decrease a person’s risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Millions of people are missing the opportunity statins provide. Many times, people do not start or stop taking a statin due to fears about side effects. The good news is that understanding your personal benefits and risks and working through your concerns with your provider can help you live a longer, healthier life.

What is a statin and how does it work?

Statins are a type of medication used to lower cholesterol. While some of the cholesterol in your blood comes from food, most is made by your liver. Statins work in two ways -- by decreasing the amount of cholesterol made by the liver and helping to remove cholesterol that is already in the blood. Statins may also reduce inflammation in blood vessels. Inflammation in artery walls can lead to blockages that damage organs such as the heart and brain.

What are the benefits of statins?

Scientific studies and years of use all over the world have proven that statins, when used correctly, reduce a person’s chances of having a heart attack or stroke needing surgical intervention, and death. The higher a person’s risk of having a heart attack or stroke, the stronger the benefit of the statin. It is important to discuss your personal benefits with your provider.

Who should consider taking a statin?

If you can answer yes to any of these questions, it’s important to talk to your provider about taking a statin medication:

  • Have you had a heart attack or stroke?
  • Are you at high risk for heart disease or stroke due to other factors like high blood pressure?
  • Do you have diabetes or very high "bad" cholesterol levels?

When should you consider taking a statin?

Starting a statin medication depends on your health. Next time you see your provider discuss whether a statin medication is right for you especially if you have had a heart attack, stroke, high risk for heart disease or stroke, diabetes, or high cholesterol.

Did you know that most statins are $0 for a 100-day supply with your health plan? Ask your doctor today if taking a statin is right for you!

What should I ask my provider?

Together with your provider, you can make the best decision for your healthiest future by asking the following questions:

  • What are my "good" and "bad" cholesterol levels?
  • What is my personal risk of a heart attack or stroke?
  • How often will I need follow-up blood tests and check-ups?
  • How will we know that the statin is working for me