The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that more people should be put on cholesterol-lowering statin drugs to protect them against heart attacks and strokes. Some patients remained reluctant to take statins despite the doctors’ advice, for fear of side effects. However side effects from statins which include liver and muscle problems are rare, and usually reversible upon cessation of the drug. The benefits of statin extend beyond simply lowering cholesterol and improving metabolic profile. Studies have shown in a vascular event, patients who are on statins tend to have a better survival rate. Patients should actively screened for cholesterol problems and speak to their doctors about statins so that they can make a well informed decision about their treatment and health.
A study, conducted from 2004 to 2007 by the National University Hospital, Singapore General Hospital and Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, with some 5,000 Singaporeans showed that 48.1 per cent had high cholesterol. But 17.3 per cent were unaware of their condition until they were tested during the study.
Leaving high cholesterol untreated increases the risk of debilitating heart attacks and strokes. Some patients remain reluctant to take statins (a class of medication used to treat hypercholesterolaemia), for fear of side effects such as liver inflammation and muscle aches. However these side effects are fairly uncommon and generally reversible upon cessation of the medication. Moreover, whenever a doctor makes a recommendation for a patient to go on medication, an assessment as to what the relative risk and benefit is, would have been made. And the doctor will make a recommendation for treatment when the benefit is clearly greater than the risk. Hypercholesterolaemia is a highly treatable condition, often with significant reduction of vascular risk upon treatment. It is advisable for patients to go for regular screening and actively discuss treatment options with their doctors for this common and potentially hazardous condition.