Handling high cholesterol can be as easy as taking a pill. But, not everyone with high cholesterol needs to be on medication.
Matt Breen, Reporting, "Dr Artang, we have talked about the good and the bad cholesterol as well as the treatment options with medicine in the previous session. Who should be treated with medicine?" Dr. Ramin Artang, Mercy Cardiology says, "There are 2 reasons to start a person on medicine such as statins. In general any person with known history of coronary artery disease or stroke should be on statin regardless of what their levels are. The other reason is to prevent disease from happening in people with high risk."
Matt Breen, Reporting, "What do statins do?" Dr. Ramin Artang, Mercy Cardiology says, "They lower the bad cholesterol. They usually don't impact the level of good cholesterol."
Matt Breen, Reporting, "What are the side effects of statins?" Dr. Ramin Artang, Mercy Cardiology says, "Like with any type of medicine there are always side effect but there are usually rare. The serious side effects of statins are muscle injury and injury to liver cells. These effects occur really rare but we do measure the muscle and liver enzymes within first few months of the treatment."
Matt Breen, Reporting, "What about the more common type of side effects?" Dr. Ramin Artang, Mercy Cardiology says, "Although we are unable to measure these more common side effect, a few people would complain of muscle pain, cramps, burning sensation or severe generalized fatigue. These side effects can happen in about 10% of the patients who receive a statin."
Matt Breen, Reporting, "How would you deal with that?" Dr. Ramin Artang, Mercy Cardiology says, "First we need to verify the diagnosis. I usually take them off the medicine for 4 weeks. If the symptoms are resolved then you have your answer. Then it goes back to the main question of why we placed on the medicine in the first place. If they have a history of heart attack or stroke then we know that they benefit significantly from this type of medicine for prevention of future events and progression of disease. For them we try to push hard to keep on some type of statin. If they develop side effects to the generic statin such as simvastatin or atorvastatin, we will consider putting them on newer generation brand statins and start at the lower dose. Or even consider taking it every other day or twice a week. I also add a vitamin supplement coenzyme Q-10 which is a natural occurring enzyme in the body and happen to be at low levels when patient experience side effects. Therefore taking the supplement may make sense although it is not 100% guarantee that it works it causes no harm and worth a try."
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