Your Genetics Could Influence Your Response to Statin Drugs

nov24-1Statin medications are popular cholesterol-lowering solutions for countless patients worldwide. Research shows that they reduce bad cholesterol by as much as 55 percent, which makes them extremely effective at decreasing heart disease risk. In spite of their numerous successes, patients’ responses can differ.

Medication Options

Atorvastatin, generic Lipitor, is a statin that decelerates your liver’s cholesterol-producing rate, which reduces your low-density lipoprotein or bad LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels while also boosting your high-density lipoprotein or good HDL.

Doctors prescribe Atorvastatin to treat elevated cholesterol. It also reduces stroke and heart attack risks and additional heart complications in patients suffering from more risk factors including Type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease. Some people have better results with Zetia (Ezetimibe) because it works differently. This lipid-lowering compound limits the amount of cholesterol that your body can absorb from your diet.

Study Could Affect Treatment Recommendations

A new study led by Queen Mary University investigators and published in Nature Communications is the biggest one to date searching for genetic modifications that alter how patients react to statins. These scientists collaborated with researchers from multiple universities on an impressive global scale to analyze data on more than 40,000 subjects from 10 observational studies and six randomized trials. Tests on an additional 22,318 subjects helped the combined team validate its original findings that two new genetic variants affect the degrees that statin treatments lower LDL or lousy cholesterol levels.

This study found that one genetic alteration improved how statin medications affect patients. But another genetic alteration that the researchers think plays a role in how the liver uptakes statin actually decreased the drug’s effects on LDL levels. Altogether, these results may enhance medical knowledge about the biological mechanisms that are fundamental to insufficient statin therapy responses. With these two additions, the overall outcome of four known variants accounts for around five percent of the various response differences between statin recipients.

The researchers note that statins are among the safest, most effective medications that doctors prescribe today. While they have the same goal of reducing cholesterol, some work differently in certain people. This study focused on a group of collaborative genes that may influence how statins work in patients individually or jointly. That important finding is a great benefit of partnering with so many international researchers to conduct such a sizable and far-reaching meta-analysis. The London study authors hope that their continuous research efforts will provide additional insight into more genetic causes for varying treatment responses.

With additional investigation, scientists may determine how to apply these discoveries to patients on statin medicines. Developing a more complete understanding of genetic variations that forecast statin response is the next step. Then researchers will be able to determine if testing for these specific genetic modifications will benefit people who take statins. Eventually, such information may help doctors customize statin-prescribing protocols according to which one will be the most effective option for every patient on an individual basis.

Diet Tips

nov24-2Consuming high-fat and high-cholesterol foods will reduce Atorvastatin and Zetia’s cholesterol-lowering benefits. Also avoid drinking alcoholic beverages, which can elevate your triglyceride levels and maybe your liver damage chances. The Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes or TLC diet focuses on a balanced diet that emphasizes good over bad fats and carbs. Recommended amounts include:

Total fat:

Just 25-35 percent of your total daily calories should come from fat.

Unsaturated fats:

These good fats from fish and nuts lower your bad LDL. Limit polyunsaturated fats to only 20 percent or less and monounsaturated fats to no more than 10 percent of each day’s total calories.


Stay under 200 milligrams per day.


Consume carbs equal to 50-60 percent of your total daily caloric intake. Eat more foods containing complex carbohydrates like veggies, pastas, and whole-wheat breads and less simple-sugar treats such as pastries and cookies.


Get 15 percent of your daily total calories from protein.

Soluble fiber:

Consume 10-25 grams every day.

Statin Side Effects

Seek emergency medical care if you experience any allergic reaction signs from Atorvastatin or Zetia including:

  • Hives
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Facial swelling, which might involve your throat, tongue, and/or lips

Quit taking your medication and contact your physician immediately if any of the serious results below occurs:

  • Unexplainable muscle pain, soreness, or weakness
  • Upset stomach, abdominal pain, appetite loss, clay-colored feces, dark-tinted urine, or jaundiced yellowish skin and/or eyes

Minor Atorvastatin aftereffects could include mild muscular pain, loose stools or diarrhea, or queasiness. With Zetia, you may experience manageable issues like numbness or tingling, minor abdominal pain or diarrhea, headaches, dizziness, tiredness, depression, cold symptoms including stuffy or runny nose and coughing, or back and joint pain.