About two years ago, 47-year-old Scott Prest went on statins.
“My doctor put me on them because of high cholesterol,” says Prest.
Considering his age, he was reluctant.
“But eventually I came around and said ‘ok, let’s go ahead and do it,’” says Prest.
“They are some of the most commonly prescribed drugs. If you look at the top ten drugs over the past ten years or so statins are always near the top,” says Dr. Brian Taschner, cardiologist with Lee Memorial Health System.
And their usage is only expected to grow. Under new guidelines more than 30 percent of U.S. adults may qualify for treatment. It begs the question- what do statins do for us?
“Statins are the first group of cholesterol medications that have consistently shown reductions in cardiovascular events. They don’t just reduce the numbers; they actually reduce the events,” says Dr. Taschner.
Cholesterol is essential for digestion, hormonal balance and cell function, but at high concentrations it can gum up arteries. Statins work by blocking production of cholesterol in the liver. The most current recommendations stress treating the sickest and those at highest risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Divided into four risk categories, one includes people with greatly elevated cholesterol, defined by an LDL greater than 190. Prest’s level hit 400.
“I tried using diet to regulate it, and that didn't work so I went on the statin,” says Prest.
A key part of the new statin strategy streamlines the process, by targeting people who will most benefit then selecting one of two dosages.
“We decide on more intense or less intense statin therapy, rather than targeting a number which we were doing before,” says Dr. Taschner.
A young patient at high risk, the odds look better today for Prest.
“I’ve had blood tests since I’ve been on them and my numbers come back better,” says Prest.