Health Beat

Health Beat: Statins: Pros and cons

CLEVELAND - It's common knowledge that having high cholesterol can put you at risk.

"Our guidelines have suggested that lower and lower levels of the bad cholesterol -- LDL -- are associated with a reduction in the risk of death, heart attack and stroke," stated Dr. Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic.

Some 102 million Americans have high cholesterol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Now, there are tens of millions of patients that take these cholesterol lowering drugs, the statins," Nissen continued.

The Mayo Clinic said there's still some debate surrounding the drugs. Common side-effects include nausea, headaches, and even more serious effects, like liver damage, increased blood sugar, type-two diabetes, and memory loss. Mayo also lists those who may be at a greater risk for side-effects, including women and people over 80.

But the FDA said the benefit of statins in reducing heart attacks and strokes should outweigh the unlikely risks. Before making a decision, talk to your doctor about family history, c-reactive protein levels, and any history of gestational diabetes.

If you're currently on statins, steer clear of grapefruit juice. The FDA warns that grapefruit juice can interfere with certain statins, preventing the medication from breaking down properly.

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