Why are statins prescribed for heart disease patients?

John M. Kennedy, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Statins are powerful, cholesterol-lowering drugs that prevent first and second heart attacks. Watch preventive cardiologist John M. Kennedy, MD, explain how statins can decrease the amount of plaque in blood vessel walls, lowering heart disease risk.
Statins are drugs that help lower a patient's level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad,” cholesterol. Cholesterol can build up in arteries, forming fatty deposits of plaque and reducing blood flow. If an artery is narrowed or blocked, it can lead to heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. Patients with high “bad” cholesterol levels or who are known to have plaque build-up in the arteries (atherosclerosis) are likely to be prescribed statins.

Examples of Statins:
atorvastatin (Lipitor)
simvastatin (Zocor)
lovastatin (Mevacor)
ravastatin (Pravachal)
rosuvastatin (Crestor)
Michael J. Bloch, MD
Internal Medicine
Not only do 'statins' lower the LDL-C, but there is substantial evidence that these medications also reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in a wide variety of patient at risk by interfering with the process outlined above.
Dean G. Karalis, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Statins have been shown to prevent the progression of coronary artery disease and reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in patients with a history of heart disease.  Patients with coronary artery disease are at very high risk of suffering a cardiac event or dying from their cardiovascular disease.  Statins, by lowering LDL cholesterol and through other mechanisms, improve outcomes in patients with heart disease and should be prescribed in all patients with a history of coronary artery disease.

Joseph Saseen, PharmD
Cholesterol Management
Statins are prescribed in patients with a diagnosis of dyslipidemia (aka, high cholesterol) when LDL-cholesterol is above the recommended goal value. Statins can be used in addition to changing your lifestyle through diet and exercise.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.