Statins are a group of medicines that can help lower the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. LDL cholesterol is dubbed the “bad” cholesterol because it collects in the vessel walls, which can choke off the blood supply to your heart or brain. Any attempts to reverse this process, such as taking statins, is therefore welcome.
According to the NHS, your doctor should discuss the risks and benefits of taking statins if they’re offered to you.
The risks of any side effects also have to be balanced against the benefits of preventing serious problems.
A review of scientific studies into the effectiveness of statins found around one in every 50 people who take the medicine for five years will avoid a serious event, such as a heart attack or stroke, as a result.
Alternative approaches to lowering cholesterol
Taking statins is not the only recourse you have against high cholesterol levels.
Lifestyle and diet changes are the main ways to prevent or lower high LDL levels.
“A trial of eating a low-fat diet, regular aerobic activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and smaller waist circumference is an appropriate first step,” advises Harvard Health.
According to cholesterol charity Heart UK, losing just 10 percent of your body weight will help lower your cholesterol levels.
It’s not just your weight that’s important, it’s your shape too.
Carrying extra weight around your middle (an apple shape) can raise your blood cholesterol more than if you carry your weight all over your body or around your thighs (pear shape), warns the charity.
In addition to eating a healthy, balanced diet, there are some simple yet effective tweaks you can make to your meals.
“Go for smaller portions – we’re used to large portion sizes and often eat more than we need to without realising,” advises Heart UK.
A handy way to do this is to use smaller plates, bowls and glasses, which creates the illusion that you’re eating more than you really are, it says.