How Do Statins Work?


Lipid-lowering agents also known as cholesterol-lowering, hypolipidemic, or antihyperlipidemic agents are a group of drugs used to reduce high levels of lipids (fats) and lipoproteins (fats with protein) in the blood. These drugs are used to treat cardiovascular abnormalities such as atherosclerosis (build-up of fats and other substances in the wall of arteries that narrows the walls, thus reducing the free flow of the blood to the organs) and decrease the risk of potential heart attacks. There are several different classes of lipid-lowering agents, such as:

  • Statins (β-hydroxy β-methylglutaryl-CoA [HMG-CoA] reductase inhibitor)
  • Adenosine triphosphate citrate lyase inhibitors
  • 2-Azetidiones
  • Apolipoprotein B antisense oligonucleotides
  • Microsomal triglyceride transfer protein inhibitors
  • Fibrates
  • Bile acid sequestrants
  • Omega 3 acids
  • Vitamin B3

Statins also known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors work by blocking the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase that is responsible for synthesizing cholesterol in the liver. As the production of cholesterol decreases in the liver because of HMG-CoA inhibition, the liver cells increase the uptake of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, bad cholesterol) present in the blood to make more cholesterol, and this reduces the levels of LDL cholesterol. Statins reduce total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides concentrations and increase high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in the blood.


Statins are used adjunctively with diet and exercise to treat and manage:

  • Hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol in blood)
  • Atherosclerosis (build-up of fats and other substances in the wall of arteries that narrows the walls, thus reducing the free flow of the blood to the organs)
  • Peripheral artery disease (narrowing of blood vessels because of fat deposits and reducing the blood flow to the limbs)


Common side effects of statins include:

Other side effects associated with statins include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Mental disturbances
  • Hair loss
  • Inflammation of the liver
  • Inflammation of the pancreas
  • Skin problems
  • Sexual problems, such as loss of libido or erectile dysfunction
  • Peripheral neuropathy (weakness, numbness and pain from nerve damage, usually in the hands and feet)
  • Tendon problems

The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible side effects, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these drugs do not cause any harm when you take them along with other medicines. Never stop taking your medication and never change your dose or frequency without consulting your doctor.


Generic and brand names of statins drugs include:


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