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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Cholesterol-lowering medicines

Cholesterol-loweringMedicines such as statins can lower your cholesterol levels and help to reduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes.

These medicines are especially recommended for people who already have signs of heart disease (angina or heart attacks) or have had a stroke or mini stroke (also called a transient ischaemic attack or TIA).

Statins are well proven to reduce the chance of having another heart attack or stroke for these people, even if their cholesterol level was normal all along.

Statins can also prevent heart attacks and strokes in people who have an increased risk. See Heart risk assessment for information on finding out your risk.

Like all medicines, statins have a risk of side effects, though most people take them without having problems.

Nearly all of the side effects from statins are temporary. They usually go away if you reduce the dose and then slowly increase it again, or if you stop taking them on advice from your doctor. If you think you have a side effect, or are worried about getting one, talk to your doctor before stopping your statin medicine.

The higher your risk of heart attack and stroke, the more it's likely you'll be better off taking a statin than not taking one. To find out your risk, you can have a heart risk assessment. Your GP or nurse can help you do a heart risk assessment or you can do it yourself.

Types of statin include atorvastatin, pravastatin, rosuvastatin and simvastatin.

Other less commonly used medication are ezetimibe and fibrates.

Your doctor can talk with you about the risks and benefits of starting cholesterol-lowering drugs, so you decide together whether or not to use them.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed December 2021.

Page reference: 130444

Review key: HIHCH-53809