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Cholesterol and Statins

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Under cholesterol guidelines, as many as 36 million Americans may need to be on the drugs called statins. Statins have become one of the first-line therapies for treating people with high cholesterol. Many patients are seeing dramatic improvement in their cholesterol levels with the use of statins.

Statin pills

Unfortunately, many who are supposed to take a statin drug do not. Studies suggest at least 20-percent of the people who have a prescription for statins, do not take them as they should - or at all. It is important to take seriously the need to control cholesterol. The first step, of course, is watching your diet and exercise. However, statins can play a tremendous role in those who continue to have high cholesterol readings in spite of good exercise and eating habits.

Primer on cholesterol and statins:

What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is one of the fats the body needs to build cell walls, make hormones and process fats. Below 200-milligram per deciliter (mg/dL) is considered desirable for the total cholesterol level.

LDL Cholesterol
Too much LDL cholesterol can clog arteries, increase risk of heart disease, stroke and other related complications. It is a major component of plaque. Below 130mg is desirable.

HDL Cholesterol
HDL cholesterol carries excess cholesterol away from arteries. Low HDL levels are associated with heart disease. Above 45mg is desirable.

How Cholesterol Works

Healthy Bloodstream
HDL eliminates excess cholesterol so it can pass through the bloodstream without causing plaque to build.

Areas Affected by Excessive Plaque
When blood flow in heart arteries is interrupted by plaque, some heart muscle could die, causing atherosclerosis, angina, coronary artery disease and heart attack. When the blood flow to the brain is impeded, a stroke may occur. Less blood flow to the lower limbs may also result in gangrene.

The Liver
The liver makes thousands of milligrams of cholesterol daily and carries it to other parts of the body. In addition, 400 to 500 milligrams is added through our diet.

Statin Drug Crestor

Cholesterol combines with other substances in the bloodstream to form plaque, which thickens arterial walls, narrowing the inner channel and impeding blood flow. Plaque can rupture, encouraging blood clots that can block the vessel entirely.

Statin-Cleaned Bloodstream
Statins can reduce LDL cholesterol by inhibiting an enzyme in liver cells. Cells in the liver use an enzyme to produce cholesterol. Statins block the enzyme, which causes the liver cells to produce extra receptors to remove more cholesterol from the bloodstream.

Summary: If your doctor recommends statins after you have tried other remedies such as exercise and diet, please consider taking them as directed.

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