What it means: statins

Exercise is important for your health, especially if you take statins to lower your risk of heart disease or stroke.

You may have heard the word “statin” on television or from friends or family who take statins. Learn more about this type of medicine and how it can help to lower your risk for heart attack or stroke.

What is a statin?

Statins helps to lower your “bad cholesterol” (low-density lipoproteins, or LDL) and improve how blood flows through your body.1 These medicines are often recommended for people who are at risk for heart disease and for adults with diabetes.1,2

Commonly prescribed statin drugs include atorvastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin, rosuvastatin, and simvastatin. ConnectiCare covers these five drugs in the lowest-cost tier of the drug list. Additionally, you may also be able to get a three-month supply mailed to your home.

Who should take statins?

Your primary care provider (PCP) or another doctor may prescribe a statin if you have heart disease or had bypass surgery, a stent placement, a heart attack, or a stroke caused by blocked artery.

Doctors also prescribe statins for people with diabetes to reduce their health risks. Studies show that adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to die from heart disease than adults without diabetes.3

Are there side effects?

Most people who take statins do not experience any side effects. Side effects that do occur may include headache, difficulty sleeping, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea or vomiting, abdominal pain or cramping, flushing of the skin, or muscle aches, tenderness or weakness (called myalgia). Rare but potentially serious side effects could include inflammation of the muscles (myositis), elevated muscle enzyme levels, or extreme muscle inflammation or damage (rhabdomyolysis).

If you have side effects, tell your doctor immediately. Don’t stop taking the medicine without talking to your doctor.  

Follow your doctor’s instructions!

It’s very important to take a statin as directed when it is prescribed and not skip doses. Studies have shown that, for people with heart disease, not taking medicines as prescribed can double the risk of heart attack, stroke, or other serious outcomes.4

Always talk to your doctor before starting or stopping a medicine, if you miss a dose, or if you have questions about any medicine you take.

Pay attention to how many refills you have left and mark your calendar to make an appointment with your doctor to get a new prescription before you run out.

We have more tips to help you remember to take your medicine.

1Grundy SM, Stone NJ, Bailey AL, et al. 2018 AHA/ACC/AACVPR/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/ADA/AGS/APhA/ASPC/NLA/PCNA guideline on the management of blood cholesterol: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines. Circulation. 2019;139: e1082–e1143. DOI: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000625.

2American Diabetes Association. Improving care and promoting health in populations: Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes – 2019. Diabetes Care. 2019;42 (Suppl. 1).

3American Heart Association. (Last reviewed August 30, 2005) Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/diabetes/why-diabetes-matters/cardiovascular-disease–diabetes. Last accessed July 15, 2019.4Gehi AK, Ali S, Beeya N, Whooley MA. Self-reported Medication Adherence and Cardiovascular Events in Patients with Stable Coronary Heart Disease. Arch Intern Med. 2007;167(16):1798-1803.