By Dr. Janice B. Schwartz, SAN FRANCISCO GATE
(San Francisco Gate)—I recently wrote about new recommendations for managing high cholesterol that focused on the use of statins for treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease. The column stimulated a number of comments regarding the disadvantages of taking statins. So let’s revisit the statin story.
The connection between high cholesterol and heart attacks, strokes and obstruction of arterial blood vessels was clearly demonstrated during the study of families with very high LDL-cholesterol levels who develop cardiovascular disease in middle age and have some narrowing of their arteries as early as childhood.
Their genetic defect is an abnormal LDL-cholesterol receptor that cannot block the production of cholesterol by an enzyme known as HMGCoA reductase. This discovery laid the groundwork for the development of statins, which can inhibit this liver enzyme and decrease the production of cholesterol. Statins not only decreased cholesterol to a greater extent than other available medications, they were far better tolerated.