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Medicines to Prevent Heart Attack and Stroke: Questions for the doctor

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Statins are medicines that reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by helping to lower cholesterol levels in the blood.

Experts recommend that you take a statin if all 3 of these statements are true:

  • You are age 40 to 75.
  • You have high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, or you smoke.
  • Your doctor has decided that you are at high risk for heart attack and stroke.

Statins aren’t right for everyone, and all medicines have pros and cons. When you talk with your doctor about taking a statin, it’s important to discuss your personal preferences as well as your risk for heart attack and stroke.

What do I ask the doctor?

Visiting the doctor can be stressful. It helps to have questions written down ahead of time. You may also want to ask a family member or close friend to go with you to take notes.

Print out these questions and take them to your appointment.

  • Am I at high risk for heart attack and stroke?
  • What do my cholesterol numbers mean?
  • What do my blood pressure numbers mean?
  • Do you recommend that I take a statin to help reduce my risk for heart attack and stroke? Why or why not?
  • What are the possible dangers or side effects of taking statins?
  • Can you give me some information about statins to take home with me?
  • What else can I do to lower my risk of heart attack and stroke?

If your doctor recommends that you take a statin, you might want to ask these questions, too.

  • How often will I take the medicine?
  • Will I need to take the medicine for the rest of my life?
  • Could statins cause problems with any other medicines I take?
  • How will I know if the medicine is working?

Content last updated February 3, 2020

Reviewer Information

This content on statins was adapted from materials from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Reviewed by:
Quyen Ngo-Metzger, MD, MPH
Scientific Director, US Preventive Services Task Force Program
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Center for Evidence and Practice Improvement

September 2018

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