Facebook Pixel

How to use statins to manage cholesterol - Howdini

Rate This

More Videos from Howdini 30 videos in this series

How to use statins to manage cholesterol - Howdini
How to use statins to manage cholesterol - Howdini
20 of 30 : Current video

Are statins really a miracle drug for people at risk for heart disease? Should everyone take them? Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of Women and Heart Disease at Lenox Hill Hospital, explains what you need to know about statins.

I'm Lisa Birnbach for Howdini. By now, you've probably seen about a million ads for anti-cholesterol drugs like Lipitor and Zocor. They will help lower cholesterol as we understand it, and they may even be helpful with other health problems, like diabetes. But as the ads always say, we feel we should ask our doctor if statins are right for you. And our doctor, in this case, is Suzanne Steinbaum, a cardiologist who specializes in women's heart disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

Dr. Steinbaum, what are statins?

Statins are a group of drugs that have been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol, which is the bad cholesterol, and actually increase a little bit the HDL cholesterol, the happy cholesterol.

Why aren't we all taking them as a matter of course?

I think at some point we might actually ask ourselves that question. Statins, in some way, seem to be a miracle drug. They not only change the cholesterol pattern but they actually decrease inflammation and stabilize plaques. We know heart disease is due to plaque formation inside of the arteries. There's cholesterol and inflammatory cells, and they all group together in this little mound, if you can picture it, inside of the artery.

When you have a heart attack, picture a pot of boiling water on the stove filled with soup. And inside that pot, all of those different particles-- cholesterol particles bubbling away, something called smooth muscle cells, inflammatory cells. And picture that pot covered with--

Mmm, yum!

No, no. Covered with Saran wrap. You cut the Saran wrap, and steam comes out, and particles come out. And that's what happens when you have a heart attack. Those statins stabilize that Saran wrap, keeps the bubbling down. It's an anti-inflammatory, along with being a lowering of cholesterol.

Are there bad side effects to statins?

It's very important to know that every medication can have a side effect, and it depends on you. Some people do get muscle aches with statins, and it's important to get your blood checked. The statins are metabolized by the liver, and the liver enzymes need to be checked, in the beginning, every six weeks. And if everything is OK, then they can be checked less often.

Eventually, if you find the right statin with the right formula, you can go on it indefinitely.

Absolutely. And it in fact may prevent the progression of that plaque formation.

But don't think of the statin as your excuse to not exercise.

A statin does not replace exercise.

I'm sucking up to you now.

A statin actually does not replace your need to eat well, either. You can't take your statin and go have a hamburger with cheese. It in fact is not the way it works. You need to continue to eat well and eat appropriately, in terms of a low fat, low cholesterol, high in fiber diet to actually prevent the onset and progression of heart disease.

Do people watching who think that they want to start on statin therapy, do they need to go to a cardiologist, or can their general practitioner put them on it?

Statins can be prescribed by anybody. But I think it's important that we understand what our risk factors are, and understand if, in fact, we might be at risk for the development of heart disease. When cholesterol is assessed, we don't just look at the LDL cholesterol, which is really when we put somebody on a statin. We look at multiple other components. The HDL cholesterol, the good cholesterol, we know is protective.

And in fact, a statin is not the best way to increase our cholesterol. I hate to say it, but exercise is the best way to increase the HDL cholesterol. Along with a vitamin that is called a niacin. Niacin, in certain formulations, are FDA-approved, and a prescription is required as well. That medication increases the HDL cholesterol and helps protect the heart.

The other thing is triglycerides. Now this type of lipid is actually something that's very directly related to our diet. If you have a diet filled with breads and pastas and simple sugars, triglycerides tend to go up. The best way to get triglycerides down is actually by eating a diet filled with lots of multigrains, and also substances that are high in antioxidants. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, all of these things. The Mediterranean-type diet is the best way to decrease triglycerides. But also, omega-3 fatty acids are very important, and can decrease triglycerides, increase HDL cholesterol, and also decrease inflammation.

Thank you so much.

You're very welcome.

For Howdini, I'm Lisa Birnbach.

Howdini is life’s little instruction manual, in HD. We’re all about bringing together the top, most respected experts in their fields to help us be the best we can be at all of the little and not-so-little challenges of our complicated lives. Howdini is the place to be for the know-how you want, when you need it. Or maybe it’s the know-how you need, when you want it. Whatever. We’re here to help. So come in and look around, won’t you?

We think you’ll love finding everything you want to learn about in one convenient place, and as we grow and add more categories and more Howdinis, you’ll be doing less surfing and more learning right here. And unlike television, Howdinis aren’t limited by time—we don’t have to break for commercials, and we’re always on.

Who is Howdini?

People often ask us, is there an actual person who is Howdini? And the answer is, it’s kind of like Lassie. Just as there were many Lassies, there are many individuals who are called Howdini. In fact, each of our experts is a Howdini, and, like all those Lassies, they really know their tricks. (Although so far there is no ‘How to tell your master that Timmy is trapped in the old abandoned mine’ segment)

Our gurus are people you know and trust because you’ve been getting advice from them for years, at places like Good Morning America, The Today Show, Money, Prevention, and Food and Wine (to name just a few). Many are best-selling authors. Others, like our medical experts, are respected leaders in their fields.

Howdini History

The first Howdini was Joanna Breen, who left a comfortable career at ABC’s 20/20 to create a how to video website after one too many frustrating experiences with handymen who weren’t that handy. Joanna had traveled the world reporting with Barbara Walters and others on injustice, outrage, and tragedy, but now it was time to turn her talents to dealing with crises closer to home, like what do you do if you drop your diamond ring down the drain. Joanna is the quintessential can-do girl, so she didn’t find the prospect of launching a gigantic website the least bit daunting. (Ok, that last part isn’t entirely true.)

Joanna convinced an old ABC News buddy, Shelley Lewis, to join her. Shelley had supervised roughly 9.7 million helpful how to segments during a long career executive producing television shows like Good Morning America and CNN’s American Morning. A self-described “info-pig” who loves all kinds of information programming, she is never happier than when she’s learning an amazing new tip that she can annoy share with everyone she knows. Needless to say, Howdini was a dream gig for her. A career woman, a wife, a mother, and author of two books, Shelley considers herself equally challenged by all the facets of her life.

Joanna and Shelley were introduced to marketing executive Alison Provost by a mutual friend who knew that Alison had what they needed - entrepreneurial experience, patience, and a checkbook that still had checks in it. Joanna and Shelley could see right away that Alison should join Howdini. They figured that they would take care of the programming, and Alison would bring trustworthy sponsors to help pay the bills. It took Alison significantly longer to be convinced, maybe because she was crazy busy running a marketing firm called PowerPact, which she continues to oversee while serving as the biggest of big cheeses at Howdini. But whether it’s playing Suduko or launching a new business in a field she knows little about, Alison loves the challenge of a good puzzle, It wasn’t long before she began dropping obscure internet terms like “user-interface” and “googlebot” into casual conversation.

What’s Next for Howdini?

Our goals are modest. Complete and total domination of the internet, crushing Google, Microsoft, and any other punks who get in our way. (Hey, it’s a just a goal.) But until then, we will content ourselves making the best, most professional, most credible how to videos you can find anywhere. We want to help you solve your career issues, your parenting problems, your money troubles. We want you to be more glamorous, healthier, and less stressed out. We want you to check Howdini every day for fun, interesting, useful advice from experts you know and trust.

We want to make Howdini the community you love to be part of every day, To do that, we need to hear from you. Please share your suggestions, rate and comment on the Howdini videos, and the blog, (The Howdini blog). Tell us what you’d like us to create for you.

And then, when we’ve achieved that, it’s back to working on complete and total domination of the internet.

Add a CommentComments

There are no comments yet. Be the first one and get the conversation started!

Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy


Heart Attack

Get Email Updates

Heart Attack Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!