Statins are drugs that can significantly reduce
(LDL) or "bad" cholesterol levels by blocking an enzyme used by the liver to make cholesterol, a waxy substance.
Slowed cholesterol manufacturing also causes the liver to make more LDL receptors, which decreases the amount of LDL in the blood. In addition, statins help to lower
triglycerides, or blood fats, and can elevate
high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or "good" cholesterol.
Most side effects are mild and may include stomach upset. More serious side effects, such as liver damage, muscle tenderness or the breakdown of muscle fibers, are rare.
Also known As: HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors
LifeWire, a part of The New York Times Company, provides original and syndicated online lifestyle content. Nancy Larson is a St. Louis-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in dozens of local and national print and online publications including CNN.com, The Weather Channel, Health magazine and The Advocate.