Our expert says:
Thanks for your question. You don’t mention your age, and you should bear in mind that an elevated cholesterol is only one of the many risk factors for vascular disease. In other words your risk should be assessed as your so-called global risk, which takes into account things such as age, family history, blood pressure, bad cholesterol, good cholesterol, smoking status, presence of absence of diabetes, weight and exercise habits, and so on.
So before taking any medication to reduce cholesterol, I would first try to establish your global risk. Your general practitioner should be able to do this for you.
Only people at high risk should take drugs to lower cholesterol. By high risk we usually mean a 10 year probability of heart attack of more than 20%.
If you are high risk, then by all means take a drug, but take one which works! Cholesterex (policosanol) has not been shown to consistently reduce cholesterol. The limited evidence has been conflicting, and probably biased, but one independent study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, concluded that policosanol does not lower LDL cholesterol.
On the otherhand, statins such as Zocor, Lipitor, and Crestor, or generic forms of the same drugs, consistently and predictably reduce cholesterol, depending on the dose and which one you take. They are very safe and effective drugs which reduce risk (but do not eliminate it) in people whose risk is high enough to justify taking them.
I hope that answers your question.
Best wishes, JT
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