Statins lower the risk of heart attack by 54 percent in patients with cardiovascular disease and can lower the risk of stroke by 48 percent, according to Medical News Today. However, statins increase the risk of developing diabetes by 9 percent. There is also a link between statin use and cataracts, increased liver enzymes and fatigue while exercising.
In addition to reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke by lowering low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, statins also relax the blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure, notes Healthline. They also stabilize the lining of the blood vessels, which makes plaque less likely to damage the heart.
When beginning statins, some patients experience side effects such as muscle and joint pain, vomiting, constipation, gas or diarrhea, reports Healthline. However, these side effects often dissipate over time. Some people experience muscle damage, memory loss, kidney damage or confusion, which may merit a medication switch.
Patients who have diabetes or are prediabetic and collect plaque in their arteries should still take a statin, because the benefits of taking statins outweigh the potential for increased blood sugar, explains Everyday Health. However, some diabetics do not accumulate plaque in their arteries, and do not need to take statins.
People who have had a heart attack or who have risk factors for heart disease should have a CT heart scan to determine if they have plaque in their arteries, states Everyday Health. Patients who do accumulate plaque, despite their cholesterol scores, should take statins. Patients who have high cholesterol, but do not accumulate plaque in their arteries, do not need statins.