1/10/18

3 things about statins you just might have wrong

One way people with high cholesterol can stick to their New Year’s resolutions is to understand how statins help their overall health.

As is often the case, misconceptions exist about the life-saving drugs that reduce how much fat-filled cholesterol the liver produces. In-check cholesterol helps prevent heart attacks and strokes.

Samantha McCauley, Carle Heart and Vascular Institute nurse practitioner, helps patients see how lifestyle changes can help their heart and how daily medication provides big benefits with few risks.

Here are some questions patients have about statins, complete with the answers that debunk the myths keeping them from better health.

Do statins increase or cause muscle pain?

They can, but that’s rare, temporary and shouldn’t stop you from trying them, McCauley said.

Tell your doctor or Advanced Practice Provider (APP) about discomfort or pain you experience while taking statins. Except in rare cases, the pain often gets better with time and does not cause damage.

As always, being active in healthy ways can help.

“Exercise and statins go hand in hand, but if they’re causing muscle pain or weakness, your doctor or APP might want you to try a different statin,” McCauley said. “Like with many medications, it’s a process.

“Different statins work differently, and it’s worth it to find out which is right for you.”

Do statins cause memory loss and confusion?

They can. But not long-term. And they’re often mild. Carle keeps an eye on related research, some of which shows long-term statin use might help prevent dementia.

Plus, according to Harvard Medical School, “because memory issues tend to crop up in middle-aged and older adults (the most common users of statins), it's hard to tell if the drug, or another problem such as age-related memory loss, might be to blame.”

If I take statins, will I get diabetes?

woman with short gray hair holds statins and test information“Statins do not cause diabetes. Quite the opposite. They help people with diabetes manage their condition for better overall health,” McCauley said.

“Many of the risk factors for diabetes and high cholesterol—being overweight, not exercising and eating poorly—are the same. That means combating those risk factors can prevent heart attack and stroke, adding quality years to people’s lives.”

If you don’t know if you have high cholesterol, contact your Primary Care Provider (PCP) and find out. If you’d like to manage your high cholesterol better:

“If people can lower their cholesterol with exercise and healthy eating, that’s great. But for some, that’s hard to do and hard to maintain,” McCauley said.

“That’s where statins can make a real difference to help people feel better and live longer.”