Harvard Men's Health Watch

The pros and cons of statins

Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs won't make you heart attack-proof, but they do reduce your risk.

If your doctor has advised you to take a cholesterol-lowering statin drug, what good things can you expect to get out of it? And is it worth the risk of side effects you may have heard about, like muscle aches and memory problems?

According to Dr. Christopher Cannon, a cardiologist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital, the benefits of statins are proven, while concerns over side effects may be out of proportion to the evidence for them. "Taking a statin is the single best thing you can do—unless you smoke cigarettes and quit smoking," Dr. Cannon says. "Almost anyone with any amount of risk will benefit."

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