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HelixTalk #180 - The Ultimate Guide to Statins: An In-Depth Drug Class Review

Date posted: March 26, 2024, 6:00 am

In this episode, we review the pharmacology, indications, adverse effects, monitoring, and unique drug characteristics of HMG CoA reductase inhibitors (“statins”).


Key Concepts

  1. Statins reduce LDL cholesterol by 20-60% (depending on the dose and statin potency). They have modest favorable effects on HDL and triglycerides. Clinically, statins reduce the risk of major adverse cardiac events by about 30% depending on the statin potency.
  2. There are four main groups of patients who are indicated for a statin: LDL >= 190 mg/dL, diabetes with age 40-75 years with LDL 70-189 mg/dL, those with an elevated 10-year ASCVD risk of > 7.5% (or possibly > 5%), and those who have had an ASCVD event (“secondary prevention”).
  3. Atorvastatin, lovastatin, and simvastatin heavily rely on CYP 3A4 metabolism and tend to be most susceptible to drug interactions compared to the other statins.
    When a statin is started, baseline lipid panel and liver function tests should be obtained.
  4. After 4-12 weeks, a lipid panel should be repeated. Liver function and creatine kinase testing should only be done if a patient has a symptom (e.g. jaundice, right upper quadrant pain, muscle pain or weakness, dark urine, etc.)


  • Grundy SM, Stone NJ, Bailey AL, et al. 2018 AHA/ACC/AACVPR/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/ADA/AGS/APhA/ASPC/NLA/PCNA Guideline on the Management of Blood Cholesterol: A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guidelines. Circulation. 2019;139(25):e1082-e1143.