I’ve had high cholesterol for years. I’ve been thin and “pleasingly plump.” At times I’ve been active, and at others I’ve been the “Stay-Puft-marshmallow-girl.” Regardless of the state of my waist or how much I “glow” (In the South, women do not sweat. We “glow” and I’ve been known to “glow” profusely!), my cholesterol remains high. From time to time, it may be low for me, but is still high by the common medically accepted standards.
As I approached my 50th birthday, my doctor wanted to know if I wanted to go on a statin drug to lower my cholesterol. Do I want to go on a statin? Well, I don’t know. My first thought was why is he asking me? After all, he’s the doctor. Does it matter what I “want?” A better question is, do I need to be on a statin? After all, my grandmother lived to be a very healthy 100 years old and she had high cholesterol. She was never on a statin and had one of the healthiest hearts around. Is taking a statin necessary? How do I know when or even if it is the right time to begin taking a statin drug?
According to the Mayo Clinic, high cholesterol alone should not be the only factor considered when making a determination regarding whether or not you should be on a statin. Your entire “risk” portfolio should be considered when making this decision. Risks include things we can’t change (age, family history, race/ethnicity, post-menopausal) as well as lifestyle factors that we can change (smoking, weight, waist size, waist-hip ratio). Other factors that should be considered include such things as whether or not you have high blood pressure or hypertension, diabetes or peripheral vascular disease. If you have multiple risk factors for developing heart disease, then your doctor may recommend taking a statin. If high cholesterol is your only risk factor, then a statin may not be the best course of action.
There are multiple statin drugs available. The most well known include Lipitor (atorvastatin), Zocor (simvastatin), Mevacor (lovastatin), Pravachol (pravastatin) and Crestor (rosuvastatin). Statins are designed to prevent your body from using substances needed to make cholesterol.