How do I Choose the Best Statin?

Ann Olson

Choosing the best statin will be based on many factors, including your personal health history, the severity of your cholesterol, certain lifestyle factors, and your personal reactions to the ingredients in the statins. Certain statins can also cause some side effects or make certain conditions worse. All of these factors make it necessary for a doctor carefully evaluate a patient's personal and family history beforehand.


It is important to understand a statin's strength — or ability to lower blood cholesterol — before choosing an ideal medication. One of the strongest statins available is rosuvastatin, which is typically the best statin for people with severely high cholesterol that cannot be controlled with diet or exercise. In comparison, fluvastatin is considered a middle-of-the-road tablet that typically is best statin for people with moderately high blood cholesterol.

Those who take statins should check with their doctors to see if it's safe to drink grapefruit juice, which can interact with the drugs.
Those who take statins should check with their doctors to see if it's safe to drink grapefruit juice, which can interact with the drugs.

The stronger cholesterol-lowering statins may cause more side effects or complications, however, so finding a less effective statin may be more ideal to avoid any additional side effects. Most statins usually cause gastrointestinal upset and dizziness, which can cause more discomfort for people who have a history of ulcers or a condition that causes disorientation. Each statin's side effects will need to be compared to a person's current health issues to ensure it will not worsen or possibly cause dangerous or life-threatening complications.

Some statins are used in addition to appropriate lifestyle changes, such as changing your eating habits, losing weight and exercising. Sometimes this is the best way for people to keep their cholesterol levels in check; for others, this may not be enough. The combination of medication and lifestyle changes is usually a better option for people who have milder forms of high cholesterol, however, and is used to avoid the side effects of more potent statins. Doctors commonly recommend avoiding foods that contain cholesterol or saturated fat, exercising regularly and eating a calorie-controlled diet.

A person's age should also be considered. Children or teenagers with high cholesterol can only take certain types of statins, as some statins may cause serious reactions in people who are not physically developed. For example, pravastatin typically is the safest statin to use in children under age 10, but atorvastatin is rarely recommended for children.

Finally, there is the cost: can you afford to take brand name statins, or do you need to use cheaper alternatives? Most statins are available as generics, which generally are cheaper than brand name pharmaceuticals but still contain the same ingredients. Also, some insurance companies may not cover the cost of some medications, making generic statins necessary for people who cannot afford brand name drugs. Overall, the best statin for you will depend on all of these factors: its cost, its safety and how well it can help you manage your high blood cholesterol.

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