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Statin Image Brand name Derivation
Atorvastatin Lipitor, Torvast Synthetic
Cerivastatin Lipobay, Baycol. (Withdrawn from the market in August, 2001 due to risk of serious Rhabdomyolysis) Synthetic
Fluvastatin Lescol, Lescol XL Synthetic
Lovastatin Mevacor, Altocor, Altoprev Fermentation-derived. Naturally-occurring compound. Found in oyster mushrooms and red yeast rice.
Mevastatin - Naturally-occurring compound. Found in red yeast rice.
Pitavastatin Livalo, Pitava Synthetic
Pravastatin Pravachol, Selektine, Lipostat Fermentation-derived
Rosuvastatin Crestor Synthetic
Simvastatin Zocor, Lipex Fermentation-derived. (Simvastatin is a synthetic derivate of a fermentation product)
Simvastatin+Ezetimibe Vytorin Combination therapy
Niacin extended-release Advicor Combination therapy
Atorvastatin+Amlodipine Besylate Caduet Combination therapy - Cholesterol+Blood Pressure
Simvastatin+Niacin extended-release Simcor Combination therapy

Cholesterol has gotten a bad reputation because when people hear the term they think that cholesterol is all bad. But, cholesterol is just one of many compounds that the body creates that supports good health. Cholesterol is produced naturally in the body, and some of this natural production can be determined by heredity. It is a combination of fats, called lipid, and steroids, and is used by cell membranes for estrogen hormones mainly in women and testosterone mainly in men. It is a chemical compound that is produced by the liver and by a person's diet.

What is Cholesterol?

The 20 percent of cholesterol produced by a person's diet comes from animal products such as meat, fish, poultry and dairy. Plant foods contain no cholesterol. Cholesterol is stored in the liver and the liver regulates and secretes the levels of cholesterol needed in the blood stream and the body.

There are two types of cholesterol, HDL and LDL.

•HDL is good cholesterol. It helps keep the artery walls clean and free of the bad cholesterol. The levels of HDL should be kept at a healthy, high level and not fall below 40 mg for men and 50 mg for women. If the HDL is too low it can increase the risk of heart disease or strokes. Physical activity on a daily basis can assist the body in producing more HDL cholesterol, and so will eliminating trans fat from the diet and eating good, nutritious foods.

•LDL is considered the bad cholesterol because it can clog arteries and increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. LDL is produced in the body, and the genes that cause the body to make too much LDL can be an inherited trait. Of course, eating trans fat and fatty foods will increase the LDL levels. Since high blood pressure can run in families, monitoring foods and making healthy lifestyle choices is important in protecting the body from harm.

The key is to balance the total cholesterol in the body. The American Heart Association recommends getting a fasting lipoprotein test every five years for adults over age 20. This test will provide a total cholesterol number, and should be taken after fasting for approximately 12 hours. The results of the test give a number in milligrams per deciliter of blood, and are shown as mg.dL.

•200mg/dL or lower - a good number that is a low risk for heart disease
•200 to 239 mg/dL - a borderline number
•240 mg/dL or higher - a high number that shows an at-risk designation. Lifestyle and diet changes required.

LDL levels should be between 100 and 120. Levels of 160 or more are too high and risky. HDL levels should be 60 or higher to have a low risk of heart disease. Less than 40 is a risky number for HDL.

Maintaining a Good Number

If numbers are too high for total cholesterol some lifestyle changes are in order. Daily exercise is important, as well as maintaining an appropriate weight. Even losing five to ten pounds can make a difference. Eating fruits and vegetables, eliminating trans fat and saturated fats from the diet and including whole grains will help. Cut back on the red meat and add fish to the diet. Smoking should be stopped.

Lowering LDL will help to stop cholesterol plaques from developing in the walls of the arteries and reduce any plaque that is already there. It will also reduce the risk of strokes or heart attacks.
There are medications that will reduce LDL. These medications are called statins and brand names include Lipotor or Crestor. There are also other medications available, such as the brand names Lipid, Questran, or Zetia.

Boosting the HDL number can be done through diet. Orange juice, niacin (vitamin B3), and mackerel, trout and salmon are good fish that will help increase the HDL number. Using monounsaturated fats instead of saturated fats will also increase good levels. Performing aerobic exercise and losing weight all play a part in ensuring good HDL.

Good Fats

Many people do not really understand what good fats versus bad fats are when they are trying to modify the diet to help lower cholesterol.

Unsaturated fats are good fats that are found in plant-based foods such as vegetable oils. These fats are liquid when they are at room temperature.

•Monounsaturated fats are canola, peanut, and olive oils.
•Polyunsaturated fats are corn, soybean, and flaxseed oils.

Trans fat is partially hydrogenating vegetable oils that make foods less likely to spoil. It will turn into a solid at room temperature. Trans fats are not good because they act like saturated fats and can lead to heart disease. Many people are now aware of the harmful benefits of trans fats, and many food companies are eliminating them from products and for use in restaurants.

Importance of Understanding Cholesterol

Cardiovascular disease in the number killer in the United States, with nearly 2,300 people dying each day from the heart disease. By managing the levels of HDL and LDL the risk of having serious heart disease and problems can be reduced. If lifestyle changes are not enough, there are effective medications that can reduce cholesterol levels. Consulting with a physician about family history, weight maintenance, proper diet, and an exercise regimen will all work towards reaching a level that will reduce unhealthy risks. Getting cholesterol levels checked by a healthcare professional is the first step.