Statins (Zocor, Lipitor, Simcor, Lescol): What do they do and should you take them?
If, at this point in your life, you are already experiencing high cholesterol problems, then you are probably most familiar with the names Zocor, Lipitor, Simcor, and Lescol. These medications, generally known as statins lower and control these pesky lipids in your body. However, because of the influx of different statins in the market, it can get quite confusing on which to choose based on its safety and efficiency, as well as its effects on each individual.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a common resident in the body, both taken from the food eaten and manufactured by the body. It is transported in the body via lipoproteins. They are either led to the body tissues and blood vessels, through the Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL), or back to the liver, by the High Density Lipoproteins (HDL). Having an increase in cholesterol in the blood means an increase in LDL, therefore, also increasing the risk for developing a cardiovascular problem due to the build up of fat and cholesterol deposits in the blood vessels. And it is where the use of statins comes in. Statins block the production of cholesterol by the body, specifically by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase from continuing cholesterol synthesis. This in turn increases the uptake for LDL, therefore lowering its levels in the body, with a subsequent increase in HDL, the good cholesterol.
What are the statins?
Lovastatin, aka Altocor, Mevacor, and Altoprev, is the first statin to be produced via fermentation. Other statins derived from such manner are Pravastatin (Lipostat), and Simvastatin (Zocor), although it is also considered of synthetic origin. Atorvastatin (Lipitor), Cerivastatin (Lipobay), Fluvastatin (Lescol), Pitavastatin (Pitava) and Rosuvastatin (Crestor) are synthetics or man made. There are also statins which are combined with other substances to enhance its action, such as Simcor which is Simvastatin and Niacin, and Advicor, which is Lovastatin and Niacin. Caduet, which is Atorvastatin and Amlodipine, can aid in lowering cholesterol and controlling blood pressure.
How can statins help?
With all these various statins, the difference lies on the body’s response to it. Based on several studies, it has been observed that atorvastatin stood out in terms of the number of adverse effects produced when used. However, the significance in difference remains low. Because of this, the popularity of using statins as a cholesterol lowering agent as well as a decreasing agent on the risk of having a heart attack has grown. More people have grown accustomed to taking statins whenever they have high levels of cholesterol in their blood. In fact, some have even used it as a scapegoat, taking it whenever they would like to have a high cholesterol meal to avoid an increase in cholesterol levels.
What else can they do?
On the other hand, some are wary about taking these statins because of the risk of developing Myositis or damage to the skeletal muscles as well as an overabundance in liver enzymes. It can also lead to kidney problems, especially when the byproducts of muscle breakdowns affect the kidneys. The coenzyme Q10 is also lowered with the use of statins. Cerivastatin has been seen to have an increased risk of developing these adverse effects. Lowest risk levels for developing a myopathy was seen with Pravastatin and Fluvastatin.
Avoid taking in grapefruits or its juices when taking statins. Studies have shown the blocking effect of grapefruit, specifically the furanocoumarins on the metabolism of statins in the body. Although it can lead to a decrease in dosage expense, the risk of developing a toxicity to statin is greater.
To conclude, cholesterol, although a mainstay in the normal balance of the body, can oftentimes get out of hand. Statins are created to correct and lower these levels, together with lowering LDL levels in the blood, thus also lessening the risk of developing a heart attack due to atheromatous arteries. Just make sure to get the right diagnosis and prescribed dosage from your attending physician before starting to take those statins.