Statins are used to lower cholesterol levels by reducing the liver's production of cholesterol, according to MedicineNet. Statins are for people with high levels of cholesterol and other risk factors for heart disease, states WebMD. Statins help prevent heart attack and stroke.
Statins block an enzyme in the liver that produces cholesterol, according to MedicineNet. Too much cholesterol may lead to cholesterol-containing plaque formation in the arteries. Plaques block the arteries and reduce blood flow to tissues. Plaques that rupture form blood clots on them, further blocking the artery. Depending on which arteries are blocked, a heart attack, stroke or intermittent claudication in the legs may occur.
Healthy lifestyle changes are still key to reducing the risk of heart disease, states Mayo Clinic. These changes include stopping smoking; eating a low-fat, low-cholesterol and low-salt diet; exercising 30 minutes a day most days of the week; and managing stress. Statins are helpful for people who make lifestyle changes but still have high cholesterol levels.
Statins are usually a long-term medication, as reported by Mayo Clinic. When statins are stopped, cholesterol levels usually rise. However, people who have lost a lot of weight or made substantial dietary changes may be able to keep cholesterol levels low without needing the statin.