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Statin Alternatives

Statins are prescription medications created to lower cholesterol. Statins work by blocking an enzyme required to make cholesterol within the liver. Without this enzyme, the body will not be able to convert the fat you eat into cholesterol. The presence of too much cholesterol within your arteries is risky since it could cause plaque. Plaque build-up can hinder blood flow and may increase the risk of having a heart attack.

There are a variety of statins that are available. They comprise:

  • High-intensity statins:
  • atorvastatin (Lipitor)
  • rosuvastatin (Crestor)
  • Moderate intensity statins:
  • fluvastatin (Lescol)
  • lovastatin (Altoprev)
  • pitavastatin (Livalo)
  • pravastatin (Pravachol)
  • simvastatin (Zocor)

Though all statins work the same way, your body may react differently to one over the other. This is one reason why doctors may experiment with different statins before deciding on the one that is right for you.

Certain drugs are more likely to interact with other medications or organic substances. For instance, the statins Lipitor (atorvastatin) and Zocor (simvastatin) are able to be a problem with grapefruit juice as per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)Trusted Source.

The interaction could be extremely risky. Combining these medications with grapefruit may raise the level of the medication in the bloodstream and can cause severe adverse consequences.

Risks and Adverse Effects

While most people are benefited from statins, they do cause some negative side negative effects. The most serious adverse consequences are experienced by people who take other medications or suffer from an underlying health issue. A lot of side effects disappear when your body adjusts to the medications.

The most frequently reported reaction to statins is joint and muscle discomfort and aches. Statins can also trigger nausea or vomiting. The most serious side effects are kidney and liver damage and an increase in blood sugar, and negative neurological consequences. In certain people, statins may cause the degeneration of muscle cells, which can result in permanent damage to the muscles.

This is the reason you need to have a list of statin-alternatives handy so that you can take them and avoid the negative side effects of statin. A few alternatives are mentioned below-

1. Fibrates

Statin Alternatives

Most commonly used to lower the triglyceride level for patients with high levels, which could cause pancreatitis. While they may have a slight impact on reducing LDL cholesterol (15 to 20 percent) but they have not been proven to decrease the risk of suffering from heart attacks or stroke. That is why they are not considered a proper substitute for statins.

2. Plant Stanols and Sterols

Statin Alternatives

There is evidence to suggest that foods that contain these Stanols and Sterols (like specially prepared sunflower spreads and yoghurt drinks) may lower cholesterol by a moderate amount (eight to 12 per cent). But, there's no evidence that they decrease the chance of suffering from heart attacks or stroke, and they're not recommended for prescribing for use in the UK.

3. Cholestyramine and Other Bile Acid-Binding Resins

Statin Alternatives

They are a relatively old drug that was commonly used prior to statins. They are still in use frequently, but they are not advised to reduce the risk of heart attacks in the future. They can cause stomach reactions and may cause vitamin deficiencies if taken for long periods of time. Bile acid sequestrants belong to a class of prescription drugs that help the body eliminate acidic bile. The body is able to break down cholesterol and release acidic bile. Sequestrants for bile acids the body can better able to excrete the bile acids.

If there is a decreased quantity of bile acids within the body after taking sequestrants of bile acids, the conversion of cholesterol into bile acids increases. This decreases levels of cholesterol present in the body. If you reduce amounts of LDL cholesterol in the liver, the body creates greater LDL receptors. The more LDL receptors, the more the removal of LDL cholesterol from the blood.

The following drugs are sequestrants of bile acids:

  • Cholestyramine
  • colestipol
  • colesevelam

Doctors can prescribe bile acid sequestrants to help reduce LDL cholesterol. After two or three weeks of taking cholestyramine, you will be able to experience the highest effectiveness of the medication.

The most frequent adverse effects of bile acids sequestrants comprise:

  • nausea
  • Bloating
  • cramping
  • Increase the liver enzymes
  • constipation

4. Niacin

Statin Alternatives

Niacin is yet another prescription medication that is used to lower cholesterol. It's vitamin B3, and you can purchase it on the market. But, its effects are restricted to just being able to raise HDL cholesterol. When compared to statin drugs, it is possible that Niacin will not enhance the outcomes of clinical trials. Doctors typically prescribe Niacin along with statin drugs. In patients in a state of diabetes or high cholesterol with mixed levels, Niacin can help to balance cardiovascular risk. This effect is stronger when taking Niacin along with statin medications in combination.

Some people find the side effects of Niacin to be uncomfortable. Flushing is a common side effect. Flushing can cause itchiness, skin rashes, and burning sensations on the chest and face. Flushing can last from 20 to 30 minutes. This side effect will disappear over time. Research shows that people who take Niacin but don't have diabetes have a 34%Trusted Source higher risk of developing diabetes in the next five years. Diabetes patients may experience an increase in fasting sugar levels. A doctor should be consulted before taking vitamin B3 over the counter for cholesterol control.

5. Policosanol

Statin Alternatives

Policosanol, which is extracted from sugarcane wax, has been shown to lower cholesterol and improve various medical conditions. There is not much evidence to support its effectiveness, and some studies have shown no effect.

6. Red yeast rice extract (RYRE)

Statin Alternatives

Chinese traditional cholesterol-lowering agent is red yeast rice extract. Experts believe that red yeast rice extract reduces LDL cholesterol. Red yeast rice extract contains monacolins, like monacolin K. This substance inhibits the same enzymes that statins target, the hydroxymethylglutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG CoA) reductase. It could, therefore, have similar effects to the statin medication Mevacor (lovastatin).

The FDA prohibits red yeast rice extract products containing more than small amounts of monacolin K in the United States. Red yeast extract products don't have the same regulatory standards as prescription medications.

Monacolin K may be present in different products. Consumers are not able to determine how much. Citrinin can also be a contaminant in products, which can lead to kidney failure. Red yeast rice extract should be discussed with a doctor.

In a review article published in Atherosclerosis, researchers evaluated 20 different studies on red yeast rice extract. Because of the poor quality of individual trials, the researchers could not assess the safety of red yeast rice extract.

7. Natural products

Statin Alternatives

Although many products claim to lower cholesterol, they lack solid evidence. They are not an option for statins. There are some natural products that your can try which will help you in reducing cholesterol. Oats are rich in beta-glucan, a fiber that can lower cholesterol. However, if you consume 3g to 4g daily as part of a healthy diet, it will not provide the same benefits as statins. A 40g serving of porridge with oats has 2g beta-glucan.


There are many types of statins, and there are also alternatives. Talking openly with your doctor is key to determining the best treatment. If statins are causing you discomfort, you can make changes to your diet and exercise. Talk to your doctor once you have started taking medication. Your doctor can help you determine if your medication can be reduced or added to. Do what suits you the best!

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