Do Statins Lower HDL (Good Cholesterol)

Published: 05th March 2010
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Statins are one of the most prescribed of all types of medications. They have been popular for years now, for their ability to rapidly reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and total cholesterol readings. They also lower triglyceride levels as well. But with all their accolades do statins lower HDL levels along with crushing LDL?

Statins work by interfering with the manufacture of cholesterol in the body, blocking an enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase that is needed by the body to create cholesterol. Less cholesterol in the body encourages the liver to remove LDL cholesterol from the blood stream, thus lowering the risk of clogged blood vessels and heart disease.

While the standard statin description in the paragraph above is taken from the American Medical Associations Encyclopedia of Medical Information there is no mention of do statins lower HDL. Ironically, the drug companies websites for such well known products as Lipitor and Crestor state that not only do statin medication not lower HDL but they actually raise it approximately 10 percent. Keep in mind that the video presentation points out that statin when combined with diet and exercise will produce these results.

But while an increase of 10 percent sounds pretty impressive and it definitely seems to resolve the question of do statins lower HDL what does it actually mean.

For HDL cholesterol to be considered healthy it must be over 60; 40 to 59 would be considered slightly low; and anything less than 40 would be considered dangerously low. So let's say the average person in high cholesterol purgatory had a HDL reading of 40 that would mean that, according to the pharmaceutical companies own information, an increase of 4 mg/dl bring HDL up to a whopping 44. This small increase from where I am sitting is not enough to make much of a difference in overall cholesterol health. This is about the same amount that calcium supplementation in older women produced in a recent 12 month study.

So the good news when answering the question of do statins lower cholesterol is that it appears they don't. The bad news is that they really don't raise it much either. So while statins are great for rapidly lowering bad cholesterol additional steps will need to be taken to get HDL (good cholesterol) levels into a healthy range. Once your LDL goals have been reached chances are your will doctor will suggest such things as consuming apples, pears, and food containing plant sterols, weight loss if need, increasing physical activity, quitting smoking, avoiding second hand smoke if possible, and reducing stress levels.

Note: While these medications are highly effective in lower bad cholesterol they do have some common side effects. These would include allergic rash, fatigue, headache, dizziness, low blood pressure, nausea, constipation, gas, and diarrhea.

What Next? Lowering cholesterol, in most cases, is about changing old habits, adopting new healthier habits, and enlisting the help of convention medications such as statins or natural cholesterol reducing remedies if needed. Put simply, this basically means finding ways to increase HDL (good cholesterol) and decrease LDL (bad cholesterol levels). Certainly the aforementioned statin drugs will be one of your options but they do carry a number of serious label warnings. The side effect risks have made natural cholesterol reduction supplements combined with diet modification an alternative treatment combination worth considering.

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