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Statins: To Take or Not to Take?

Healthcare is made up of many decisions based on risk/benefit analyses. Many things go into each decision so there are many nuances and many different permutations to each decision. Whether to get a mammogram or not; and if so, how often? A colonoscopy or a stool card? A statin or not? A daily aspirin? Which vaccines? Which vitamins? Medication for bone density or stick with diet and exercise alone? One of these decisions that comes up a lot is whether or not to take a “statin” to prevent cardiovascular disease. These are medications like atorvastatin and rosuvastatin and were so hailed at one time as the panacea in medicine that there were tongue-in-cheek jests that they should be “put in the water.” While they are FDA approved to lower cholesterol, they are also frequently recommended to anyone with a certain risk of cardiovascular disease, such as those with diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, or at a certain age. Since there are so many people who are taking them, there are a lot of news stories and a lot of people who know people who have taken them and have heard concerns about them. As it relates to body weight and wellness, many people that I see are trying to get off of their statins or prevent needing to take them by losing weight. Of course, it is always a great idea to eat healthy food, get physically fit, be physically active everyday, and reach a healthier body weight. But, when is it ALSO a good idea to take a statin to prevent cardiovascular disease?

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