As adults enter into the fourth and fifth decades of their lives, many are diagnosed with high cholesterol. At that point, concerned doctors will recommend that their patients with “fatty blood” begin taking a medication which protects the heart and blood vessels against the onslaught of cardiovascular disease.

The medications most commonly prescribed are from a drug class called statins with brand names such as Lipitor®, Crestor® and Zocor®. These meds work by reducing the production of cholesterol by the liver and therefore preventing artery-clogging plaque formation within the walls of your blood vessels.

It is important to know that statins are not a “cure all” pill. You need to exercise and eat a heart healthy diet in conjunction with this medication. In fact, once study published in The Lancet showed that regular exercise alone had a greater effect on lowering cholesterol than taking statins (without exercising) did…so imagine the “bang for your buck” you’ll get if you employ both these cholesterol fighting methods simultaneously!

Now a word of warning, well, actually three points worth noting:

1. Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice if you are taking statins. Grapefruit blocks the absorption of statins from your gut and significantly reduces its effectiveness.

2. One rare but critical side effect to keep in mind is that statins can cause a serious type of muscle disease called rhabdomyolysis. If you experience muscle cramping after beginning this medication, contact your doctor immediately.

3. Make sure your doctor is checking your liver enzymes regularly (usually every 6-12 months) as statins, like many drugs, can cause liver damage over time. That said, if you have known liver disease do not take statin medication. Also, if you are pregnant, nursing or planning to become pregnant you should abstain from this medication as well.

You can hear Lisa’s interview on Austin Hill in the Morning below:

3 warnings about high cholesterol medications

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