Are cholesterol-lowering drugs right for you? Statin side effects you should know

To lower your cholesterol naturally, Harvard Medical School says to cut out certain fats, back down on sugar and grain intake, and increase your fruit and veggie intake.

But when lifestyle changes aren't enough, should you go on statins?

It's common knowledge that having high cholesterol can put you at risk.

"Our guidelines have suggested that lower and lower levels of the bad cholesterol LDL are associated with a reduction in the risk of death, heart attack and stroke," said Steven Nissen, MD, Cleveland Clinic.

The CDC says 102 million Americans have high cholesterol.

"Now there are tens of millions of patients that take these cholesterol-lowering drugs, the statins," Nissen said.

Mayo Clinic says there's still some debate surrounding these drugs. Common side effects include nausea, headaches and even more serious effects like liver damage, increased blood sugar, type two diabetes and memory loss.

Mayo also lists those who may be at a greater risk for side effects including women and people over 80.

But the FDA says that the benefit of statins in reducing heart attacks and strokes should outweigh the unlikely risks. Before making a decision, talk to your doctor about family history, c-reactive protein levels and any history of gestational diabetes.

If you're currently on statins, steer clear of grapefruit juice. The FDA warns that grapefruit juice can interfere with certain statins, preventing the medication from breaking down properly.
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