Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum on Choosing the Right Statin for High Cholesterol

DocWire News recently spoke Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, cardiologist, published author, and womens’ wellness advocate. Dr. Steinbaum discussed:

  • Treatments for high cholesterol, like statins, as an option to consider as part of a patient’s cholesterol management.
  • Knowing what statins are available on the market.
  • The importance of an individualized approach when choosing the right statin medication.
  • How she works with her patients to create a plan for their cholesterol management.

DocWire News: How big a problem is high cholesterol in the U.S.?

Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum: High cholesterol is one of the major issues that we have in the United States. We know that heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the US. And that’s due to the risk factors of heart disease, which includes high blood pressure, and diabetes, and high cholesterol. And that’s just one of our major problems.

How big a role does statin therapy play in regulating cholesterol levels?

There’s about 11 million people who have recently been put on statins when our new guidelines came out. And those new guidelines stress the importance of getting our cholesterol down. And for many people, statins is a huge part of that.

How important is an individualized approach when choosing a patient’s statin medication? 

It’s so important for us to really look at each patient separately and individually when we make decisions about statin medication. Not all medications are the same. And so, it’s essential that we look at our patients and understand there are multiple different statins available. Age, whether or not there’s diabetes, they’re on other medications, all of these things become important in making that decision.

What differentiates all statins on the market?

Well, not all of them are the same and they have different side effect potential. And when we look at some with multiple medications, who’s over the age of 65 with diabetes, we look at all the statins out there and say, “Okay, which one’s best for this person?” And this is a situation, Livalo is one of the statins, which has a less side effect profile in that particular situation. So as a physician, I would choose Livalo instead of other statins. When you look at another patient, they might not have the same profile, but we certainly have to look at the big picture of who the individual is when we make those decisions.

How do you personally work with your patients to create a plan for cholesterol management?

It is so important, and I can’t emphasize this enough, that patients talk to their doctors. We really talk about lifestyle management. We talk about diet, and exercise, and how to make the healthiest choices for them every day based on their food and their movement. But then we also do talk about medications and we talk about the potential of side effects. I always say to people, you have to partner with your physician. And if you have side effects on a statin, don’t stop in it. Talk to your doctor first, really have that communication because, as I said, there are multiple different statins. And depending on who you are, and if you’re on multiple medications, or you have risk factors, or you’re over 65, there might be a better statin for you than the one that you’re on.

Any closing thoughts?

I think that one of the things that we all have to remember, especially because when we look at the United States and what’s going on, and we look at these risk factors, we think about hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol. And we think about the fact that heart disease is the number one killer. Many people are on multiple, multiple medications, and there is the potential for side effects and interactions with all these medications. When it comes to statins, and we really look at that group individually, there are statins, there is something like Livalo that has the potential to have less side effects with the other medications. And as I said before, the most critical piece of this is talking to your doctor, going through your list of medications, going through all the lifestyle choices you’re making, and talking side effects and the potential options. And I think having that relationship and advocating for yourself is a critical, important piece of this whole conversation.