Facts and Myths About Statin Therapy

Facts and Myths About Statin Therapy

Michael Avaricio, MD, of Advanced Cardiac Care, PLLC, in the Ozone Park area of Queens, New York, is a board-certified cardiologist who always calculates the possible health risks versus the potential benefits of any medication before prescribing it.

Despite numerous rumors about the “dangers” of statin medications, research studies continue to show they’re highly effective at lowering dangerously high LDL cholesterol and are overall safe for most individuals.

Read what Dr. Avaricio has to say about common myths versus the facts regarding statin therapy.

Myth: Statin medications cause diabetes

Fact

The FDA has issued a warning that statin medications may raise blood glucose (blood sugar) levels in some individuals.

Generally, however, the effects of statins on blood sugar are mild and only a problem for those who are already in the prediabetes or abnormal blood sugar range when starting the medication. 

Thus, while statins may increase your blood sugar slightly, they do not cause diabetes.

Dr. Avaricio usually recommends checking your blood sugar periodically, along with other routine labs, if you are predisposed to diabetes. 

For most individuals, the benefits of statin therapy in lowering LDL or “bad” cholesterol typically outweigh the risk of increased blood sugar levels.

Notably, many lifestyle changes recommended for protecting your heart health, such as improved diet, increased physical activity, and weight loss, can also normalize your blood sugar levels and drop you out of the prediabetes zone.

Myth: Statins cause muscle damage

Fact

One of the potential side effects of statin therapy is muscle pain and fatigue. However, that occurs in less than 5% of people taking the medication and may be easily rectified with a dose adjustment or switching to a different type of statin.

Very rarely, statins may cause rhabdomyolysis — a serious condition that can result in severe muscle pain as well as kidney and liver damage.

However, rhabdomyolysis is an extremely rare side effect of statin therapy (one or two cases per million) and typically occurs when the statin dose is excessively high or combined with certain other medications.

Dr. Avaricio carefully reviews your current medications to ensure that you aren’t taking any that would pose a problem when combined with a statin. He also calculates your dosage carefully to ensure that you receive the most benefit at the lowest possible dose.

Make sure Dr. Avaricio is aware of any prescription medications or over-the-counter drugs, including supplements, you’re currently taking or considering starting when on a statin.   

Overall, however, the potential cardiac benefits of statin therapy to reduce dangerously high LDL cholesterol far outweigh the possible risk of rhabdomyolysis.

Myth: Statins damage your liver

Fact

Some statin drugs can cause mild liver inflammation. That side effect is rare, however, and generally easily managed by switching you to a different type of statin medication.

Dr. Avaricio typically performs blood tests, including liver function studies, before recommending statin therapy. He also asks you to schedule follow-up labs periodically to monitor the results of your treatment.

You can rely on Dr. Avaricio to carefully consider the potential risks versus the health benefits before recommending any medical treatment, including statin therapy.

For further information about statin therapy, or any of the cardiology services we offer, schedule a visit at Advanced Cardiac Care today. 

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