Cholesterol, despite its notorious reputation, is actually not always bad.
Cholesterol, the soft and fat-like matter, helps in the creation of new cells and production of hormones in addition to other biological functions.
Cholesterol becomes a major health problem when too much is already accumulated in the body due to careless intake of cholesterol-rich foods like dairy products, eggs, and meat products. It is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. High cholesterol levels cause the build-up of low density lipoprotein (LDL) or the “bad” cholesterol on the artery walls, causing them to thicken, harden, and narrow. This condition is called atherosclerosis that can gradually lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Hypercholesterolemic patients are thus advised to limit their intake of cholesterol, exercise regularly, and to take medications. Among those effective for lowering the LDL cholesterol levels is simvastatin, currently prescribed worldwide as medication for hypercholesterolemia. Simvastin is part of a group of drugs called statins. Statins work by inhibiting or interfering with an enzyme in the liver involved in the production of cholesterol. Statins are easy to administer, cause only a few drug-drug interactions, and have high patient acceptance.
Studies show that statins not only effectively lower the cholesterol level but also save lives of people because it significantly reduces the risk of a heart attack and stroke in patients with coronary heart disease. Some studies also indicate that regular intake of statins lowers the risk of getting colon cancer and prostate cancer. Long-term statin therapy is also believed to help treat multiple sclerosis and glaucoma.
However, statins and simvastatin cause a string of immediate side effects which include abdominal pain, gas, constipation, upset stomach, cramps and in extreme cases, liver toxicity. Thus, statins are not recommended for those with liver problems. It can also cause a severe muscle reaction and weakness termed as rhabdomyolysis.
With the fast development of technology in the field of medicine, there could be other options out there. Before making a sound decision, arm yourself with knowledge and consult your doctor first.