Learn about heart disease and statins

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Show your heart some love! No matter your age, there are lifestyle choices you can make today to lower your risk of developing heart disease. For example, taking statins—doctor-prescribed, cholesterol-reducing medicines—can help prevent heart disease.

Know the risk factors for heart disease

Half of all Americans have at least 1 of the top 3 risk factors for heart disease, and these factors are increasingly appearing in people at younger ages:1

  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Smoking

Additional risk factors include physical inactivity, obesity and being overweight and diabetes. Fortunately, there are ways to modify, treat or control these factors.

There are also risk factors for heart disease that can’t be changed, such as:

  • Age—the older you are, the greater your risk 
  • Gender—males are at greater risk than females 
  • Family history or heredity—if others in your family have had heart disease2

Because some risk factors can’t be changed, it’s especially important to manage the ones you can.

What you need to know about statins

  • Statins are medicines that work to lower your cholesterol by blocking a substance your body needs to make it3 
  • Some common statins are atorvastatin, simvastatin, rosuvastatin, pravastatin and lovastatin4
  • Statins can also reduce the existing plaque that has built up in the arteries and help keep the smooth muscle lining of arteries healthy5 
  • You should talk to your doctor about the possibility of adding a statin to your therapy if you have high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular conditions or are a smoker

Healthy habits you can start today

Making healthy choices and positive changes can sometimes take some effort, but it’s important for keeping your blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar at a normal level.

  • Eat a healthy diet. Filling your plate with fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains gives your body the nutrients it needs and helps control cholesterol, blood pressure, weight and diabetes. Other heart-healthy foods include low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, legumes, nuts and nontropical vegetable oils. Try to limit your intake of sweets, sugary drinks and red meat.6 
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Your doctor can help you determine your healthy weight by calculating your body mass index.7 You can then work toward this goal with diet and exercise. 
  • Get enough physical activity. It’s recommended that adults get 2 1/2 hours of moderate-intensity exercise per week, such as brisk walking or bicycling. Children and adolescents should try to get 1 hour of physical activity every day.8 
  • Quit smoking. Smoking cigarettes greatly increases your risk for heart disease. Your doctor may be able to suggest ways to help you quit. 
  • Limit your intake of alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. It’s recommended that men have no more than 2 drinks per day and women no more than 1 per day.9 


This material is provided for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical professional. You should consult with your doctor to determine what is right for you.

Sources:

  1. “Heart Disease: It Can Happen at Any Age,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last accessed January 22, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/features/heartmonth/index.html
  2. “Understand Your Risks to Prevent a Heart Attack,” American Heart Association, last accessed January 22, 2019, https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/understand-your-risks-to-prevent-a-heart-attack.
  3. “Statins,” Drugs.com, last accessed February 5, 2019, https://www.drugs.com/drug-class/hmg-coa-reductase-inhibitors.html
  4. “Statins: Are these cholesterol-lowering drugs right for you?” Mayo Clinic, last accessed February 5, 2019, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/statins/art-20045772
  5. “Statins,” U.S. National Library of Medicine, last accessed February 5, 2019, https://medlineplus.gov/statins.html
  6. “Understand Your Risks to Prevent a Heart Attack.” 
  7. “Preventing Heart Disease: Healthy Living Habits,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, last accessed January 22, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/healthy_living.htm. 
  8. “Preventing Heart Disease: Healthy Living Habits.” 
  9. “Preventing Heart Disease: Healthy Living Habits.”

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