Statins are now one of the reference lipid or cholesterol lowering agents. They are used in isolated hypercholesterolaemia or hypercholesterolaemia associated with hypertriglyceridaemia. However, they are always used as an addition to an appropriate diet.
How do the statins work?
These medicines act by inhibiting hydroxymethylglutaryl (HMG) CoA reductase (HMG CoA reductase). This enzyme is both the rate limiting step in hepatic synthesis of cholesterol and stimulates the activity of lipoproteins contributing to increased levels of "bad cholesterol". Bad cholesterol is low density lipoprotein cholesterol more widely known as LDL cholesterol (Low density lipoprotein).
Do they have any contraindications or precautions?
Headaches, gastro-intestinal problems, skin rashes, fatigue..... most of the side effects reported by patients who are taking statins are mild and short lived. More rarely, these treatments can cause a rise in the levels of some liver enzymes (particularly transaminases), and myalgia, otherwise known as muscle pain. These are a warning sign and must be reported to the doctor immediately. Cases of severe rhabdomyolysis have been reported, usually when a statin has been given in association with other treatments.
Statins are a reference treatment for hypercholesterolaemia. © Phovoir