Posts Tagged ‘high blood pressure’

Is Statin Use Worth the Risk?

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If you have high cholesterol, chances are your physician has prescribed or suggested using a statin drug.  Statin use is considered the most powerful medication currently available to help tame high levels of cholesterol.  High cholesterol can lead to heart attack and stroke so reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease is important.

cholesterol imageAre You at Risk for a Heart Attack and Stroke?

There are many risk factors that can be used to assess your overall risk of heart attack and stroke:

  • smoking
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • weight
  • exercise habits
  • age
  • family history
  • current cardiovascular health

Additionally, your physician may require a cholesterol blood test to see if you have elevated blood cholesterol levels.

The American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association have an assessment test that can predict your chances of having a heart attach in the next 10 years.  If you are at risk, there are several guidelines that focus on who would benefit most from statin therapy.

Four Groups of People Which Would Benefit from Statin Therapy

  1. Those people who have cardiovascular disease.  This includes people who have a) had a heart attack, b) stroke, c) mini-strokes (transient ischemic attacks), d) arm or leg artery disease or e) surgery to open or replace coronary arteries.
  2. Those people who have very high LDL cholesterol.  This includes people who have LDL cholesterol levels of 190 milligrams per deciliter or higher.
  3. Those people who have diabetes AND an LDL cholesterol of 70 mg/dl or higher.
  4. Those people with a 10 year risk of heart attack of 7.5 percent and LDL above 100 mg/dl.

Potential Side Effects of Statin Use

  1. Muscle Issues – If you are older, female or of Asian descent or have liver, kidney or muscle disease, or an under active thyroid, you may be at risk for muscle problems when using a statin.
  2. Increase in blood sugar levels that can lead to Type 2 diabetes.
  3. Elevated liver enzymes

It is important to discuss the benefits and risks with your physician.  If you decide to take a statin, your physician may look for ways to reduce future side effect risk, such as recommending blood tests for deficiencies in Vitamin D or Q10 and conducting a physical exam with additional blood testing as needed.

The easiest and most effective guidelines recommend a heart-healthy lifestyle for heart attack and stroke prevention.  It is also helpful to minimize other risk factors such as high blood pressure.  Lastly, add exercise to your healthy lifestyle and you will decrease your risk of all cardio vascular disease.

Take control of your health; test frequently to ensure your cholesterol levels are within normal range and discuss any abnormalities with your physician.

Recommended reading:

Statin Guidelines

American Heart Association – cholesterol


If you are pre-diabetic or diabetic, you are probably checking your blood glucose levels and watching your diet.  Some have added an exercise routine and these actions are all part of the overall program to keep your blood sugar in check.  It is also recommended to take additional routine tests since diabetics have a higher incidence of secondary health issues that should be addressed early:

  1. blood pressure
  2. foot exam
  3. Hemoglobin A1c blood test
  4. urine microalbumin test
  5. cholesterol tests
  6. eye dilation exam

diabetes tests

Blood Pressure

If you have diabetes, the risk of developing high blood pressure doubles.  The latest recommendations are systolic and diastolic values under 120/80.  Interestingly, a nurse said there is no such thing as “White Coat” symptoms : when a patient has unusually high blood pressure while getting measured by a health professional.  She indicated that if a person has high blood pressure they have high blood pressure no matter who is taking their vital signs.  If you are unsure, invest in a home blood pressure monitor and track your blood pressure.  Take these readings to your physician to determine if additional diet, exercise or medication needs to be adjusted.

Check Your Feet

A diabetic’s foot is very sensitive.  Do a self check to ensure there are no pressure sores, cuts or ingrown toenails that can ultimately lead to infections and gangrene.  Infections can lead to amputation.  Doctors recommend you do a self exam daily.

Average Blood Sugar – Hemoglobin A1c

This test measures how well you are managing your blood sugar levels over the last two or three months.  Order a Hemoglobin A1c test every 3 months to see if your protocol for blood sugar management is indeed working or if it needs adjustment.

Urine Microalbumin Test

This urine test measures the amount of albumin, a certain type of protein in your urine.  Abnormal ranges of albumin may indicate kidney damage.  It is recommended to order a urine microalbumin test once a year.

Lipid Profile Test

Lipids are the fats in your blood and this test will measure cholesterol, triglycerides, high density lipoproteins and low density lipoproteins and determine if they are within the recommended ranges.  It is recommended that you order a lipid panel test every 6 months.

Dilated Eye Exam

If you have diabetes, your ophthalmologist or optometrist should perform a dilated eye exam to check for signs of diabetic retinopathy.  It is recommended that you conduct this test annually.

Take Control of Your Health

Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.