Statins and your Cholesterol
Cholesterol is required by the body for the performance of specific functioning within the body. However, excessive amounts of cholesterol in the blood are associated with certain conditions, particularly atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Atherosclerosis is caused by the build up of LDL cholesterol on the walls of arteries. This build up can lead to an overall reduced blood flow and blockages. If blood flow is sufficiently slowed or blocked, it can lead to the development of chest pain (angina), heart attack, or stroke.
Statins: Chemical Overview
Statins, scientifically known as HMG (hydroxyl-methylglutaryl) Coenzyme A reductase inhibitors, are used for reductions in overall LDL cholesterol levels. LDL's (low density lipoproteins) are considered to be "bad" cholesterols located within the blood. Statins are known to lower cholesterol levels by inhibiting enzyme activity levels of the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase. HMG-CoA is required for cholesterol synthesis (production) by the body, and therefore can limit the rate at which it is produced. By inhibiting this specific receptor, the liver will stimulate LDL receptors, decreasing the amount of LDL in the bloodstream, decreasing LDL concentrations and overall cholesterol.
Statins: Common in Medications
Statins have been scientifically proven to lower LDL cholesterol levels, and are currently prescribed through a variety of medications by physicians. Currently, the two most commonly prescribed medications for cholesterol reduction are Lipitor and Crestor.
Statins: Benefits of Use
In addition to the control and reduction of LDL levels within the bloodstream, statins are also associated with several other health benefits including a reduction in incidents of stroke, peripheral artery disease, coronary heart disease, and myocardial infarctions (heart attacks). Medical research continues as to the benefits and mechanisms by which statins perform. However, statins are not associated with increases in HDL (high density lipoproteins), "good" cholesterol levels. Increasing the concentration of HDL cholesterol levels is associated with increased health benefits. Statins, while associated with many benefits, do have adverse side effects.
Statins: Adverse Effects
There are certain side effects associated with the use of statins including muscle cramping, headache, diarrhea, constipation, gastrointestinal symptoms, rash, and weakness. Serious side effects include rhabdomyolysis and liver failure. Rhabdomyolysis is typically noted to begin with muscle weakness caused by an overall decrease in the presence of muscle cells. Eventually, rhabdomyolysis, left untreated, will lead to kidney failure and death.Typically the side effects of both rhabdomyolysis and liver failure are accompanied by the use of other medications in addition to treatment with statins. However, the incidence rates of these side effects are low. It is important to weigh the benefits and risks with your physician before the use of statins for cholesterol control begins.
Statins and Lowering Your Cholesterol
Statins are only available through prescription medications. There exist many other natural methods that can lead to an overall decrease in total cholesterol while decreasing overall LDL and increasing overall HDL. By making dietary and lifestyle changes, it may be possible not only to control your cholesterol levels, but to lower your cholesterol to healthy maintainable levels as well.
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