A low-dose statin refers to a lower starting dosage of one of the many types of cholesterol-lowering medications. Dosage decisions are based on a patient’s cholesterol levels and overall cardiovascular risk, which is assessed with regular appointments with healthcare providers. This allows the healthcare provider to make any necessary adjustments to achieve optimal outcomes.
The medication, which comes in tablet, liquid or extended-release capsule form, works by blocking the body’s ability to make cholesterol. It also reduces the amount of cholesterol circulating in the blood and helps with its removal by the liver. In addition, it can increase HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), which is helpful for protecting against heart and blood vessel disease.
Statins are used to prevent the build-up of plaque in the arteries. Plaque is made of fatty substances, such as cholesterol and other fats, that can block blood flow to and from the heart and brain. If left unchecked, this can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Statins can significantly reduce a person’s risk of having these events and have been shown to help people recover from them after they have already had one.
Doctors recommend that people who have a 10% or greater chance of having a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke, take a statin to reduce their risk. However, it can be difficult for healthy adults to agree to take a daily medication when they feel fine. GPs are often a key part of the conversation when it comes to getting patients on statins, ensuring they are aware of all the benefits as well as potential side effects.