Can Cholesterol-lowering Drugs prevent Heart Diseases?
High cholesterol and heart diseases have a very close relation. People who have heart problems or suffer from hypertension or high blood pressure are always warned against the consequences of high cholesterol or LDL cholesterol. Now, high levels of cholesterol in the blood is actually dangerous as it can get deposited on the walls of the arteries along with other fatty substances and restrict the blood flow leading to a condition called atherosclerosis, which gives rise to various heart problems and makes one prone to heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular diseases.
Now, probably the easiest and effective way to keep the heart healthy is following the right diet and engaging in aerobic exercises at least thrice a week that help to burn calories effectively. The importance of right diet and exercise in safeguarding your heart cannot be stated enough. But a sedentary lifestyle and dependence on junk and processed food have made a large chunk of the population fall prey to heart diseases. This is a reason why heart diseases have become common in people in their 20s and 30s too, no exaggeration over here.
Some doctors prescribe cholesterol-lowering medications or statins to keep the bad or LDL cholesterol low. Cholesterol levels in the blood are mainly a result of the production of cholesterol in the liver and a bit through dietary intake. Statins act by obstructing the synthesis of cholesterol in the liver. Once the production of cholesterol in the liver drops, blood cholesterol levels also drop. However, most people have started to believe that popping cholesterol-lowering drugs or having statins can save them from an impending heart condition, heart attack or a similar fate. So, we got talking Dr Irfan Khan, Consultant Cardiologist, Dr L H Hiranandani Hospital to know how much statins can help to prevent heart diseases.
‘A very common myth that has been doing rounds for long is that you need cholesterol-lowering drugs to prevent heart disease. Well, these drugs commonly called as statins are a part of the armamentarium of drugs indicated only in a specific subset of patients such as patients who already had a cardiovascular event and need them for secondary prevention. Other than that statins are prescribed as primary prevention only in patients with high LDL cholesterol along with uncontrolled long-standing diabetics, as the benefit of taking these drugs outweigh its risks on a long-term basis in this subset of patients. As for general populace, preventing heart disease is a multimodal approach where exercise, smoking cessation, dietary changes, salt reduction all play an important role and the role of medications especially statins is always secondary. Also, the adverse effects of these drugs like muscle weakness and myopathy needs to be taken into account before popping these pills mindlessly.
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