Can You Stop Taking Statin If Your Cholesterol Is Normal?
Most people need to take statins for life, but with consistent and major lifestyle changes like diet and exercise, you may be able to get off statins. If your total cholesterol is in a healthy range, talk to your doctor about stopping statins.
Never stop your statin drug without talking to your healthcare provider. While you may not experience any immediate symptoms, doing so can increase your overall risk of a heart attack or stroke.
In many people with high cholesterol, healthy lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight can improve their cholesterol levels. But sometimes, these lifestyle changes are not enough, and cholesterol-lowering medication such as statins are needed for lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease.
Statin therapy usually needs to be continued lifelong to control high cholesterol. However, it may be possible to come off statins if you can lower your cholesterol levels with a healthier lifestyle. Please continue reading to learn more about how to stop taking statins safely.
Can you get off statins once you start?
Most people will need to take statins for life. But if you make major lifestyle changes through diet and exercise, you may be able to get off statins. Keep in mind that if your cholesterol numbers were at a healthy level on a cholesterol check recently, this could be the effect of your statin drug.
Nonetheless, if your total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides are in a healthy range, you can talk to your doctor about possibly coming off statins. However, you will need to continue lifestyle changes such as healthy diets and adequate physical activity.
Never stop your statin drug without talking to your healthcare provider. Doing so can increase your overall risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Change your medication regimen. For example, prescribe a low-dose statin (staying on the same medication).
Switch you to a different statin drug, for example, low-intensity statins.
Prescribe other cholesterol-lowering drugs such as cholesterol absorption inhibitors, bile acid sequestrants, fibrates, PCSK9 inhibitors, or ACL inhibitors. Depending on your cholesterol levels and health history, these statin alternatives can be used instead of or in combination with a statin.
Why do people stop statin treatment?
Statins are usually prescribed for life. But some people stop statin therapy because of:
Side effects: Commonly reported side effects of statins include headache, dizziness, nausea, gas, diarrhea, constipation, and muscle aches.
Cost: Statins are available in lower-cost generic forms and are covered by most health insurance plans. However, lack of health insurance coverage and high cost of treatment may be a reason for some people to stop taking statins.
Do I need statins if my cholesterol is normal?
You still need statins if your cholesterol is normal. Statins work only as long as you continue taking them.
If you stop taking your statin medication, your cholesterol numbers will slowly increase to pre-treatment levels over a period of several weeks to months, putting you at an increased risk of a heart attack or stroke.
What is the safest way to stop taking statins?
The safest way to stop taking statins is with your doctor’s guidance. As mentioned above, statins only work as long as you take them. When you stop statin treatment, your cholesterol levels rise, and your risk of heart attack and stroke increases.
If you are keen on ending statin therapy because of its side effects, your doctor can recommend other lipid-lowering drugs or lower the dose of the current statin.
In some cases, people can stop taking statins with consistent lifestyle changes. However, it also depends on how high your cholesterol levels are.
You should discuss with your doctor to see if you can keep your cholesterol levels within range by adhering to lifestyle changes with diets and exercises.
What are the long-term risks of statins?
People taking statins have been monitored for decades. Most people tolerate statins well. Serious side effects are rare. Therefore, statins are considered generally safe without long-term risks.
There is a small risk that taking statins can lead to an increase in blood sugar and an increased risk of developing diabetes, especially in people who have prediabetes. However, the benefits of taking statins outweigh the risk of a minor increase in blood glucose levels.
There are also concerns about statin use and increased dementia risk. Some people report experiencing memory problems, mental fogginess, or confusion while taking statins. However, studies do not support this. If anything, statins improve brain health by lowering the risk of stroke and protecting the blood vessels in the brain.
No link has been found between statin therapy and an increased risk of cataracts.
How does a statin medication control cholesterol levels?
Statins, also called HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, are prescription medications for high cholesterol. They block the enzyme called HMG-CoA (hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA reductase), which is necessary for the liver to produce cholesterol.
These drugs, therefore, reduce the amount of cholesterol made by the liver. They also help the body reabsorb the cholesterol that is circulating in the blood. Additionally, statin drugs help to decrease inflammation in the blood vessel walls and stabilize existing plaques, reducing the risk of coronary artery disease, blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes.
Why is high cholesterol dangerous?
High cholesterol increases your risk for cardiovascular disease, heart attack or stroke, and other health problems. Other risk factors for developing high cholesterol include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, obesity, smoking, an unhealthy diet, and lack of exercise.
Having high cholesterol can lead to the formation of plaques (fatty deposits) in the artery walls. Narrowing and hardening of the blood vessels in organs such as the heart and brain can lead to strokes or cardiovascular disease, such as heart attacks, because of reduced blood flow in blocked arteries. By lowering LDL cholesterol levels, statins help to prevent the formation of plaques in the artery walls that cause blood vessel blockages.