My LDL is 109. Should I take a statin?

I have a cholesterol question. My LDL is 109. My GP tells me that the latest cardiac information is to shoot for an LDL of 70. What are your thoughts? Also, is a 40mg dose of Simvastatin considered medium or average?

Submitted by Brian from Venice, Florida on 03/03/2014

by Michael J. Mihalick, MD

Dear Brian,
If you have evidence of arteriosclerosis, especially if it is symptomatic or other risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, hypertension, or a strong family history of premature heart disease, getting your LDL as low as possible is recommended. However, with an LDL of 109, your risk is low in the absence of the above risk factors. Taking a statin will lower your risk by 25-30%. If your baseline risk is very low, the amount of additional lowering is miniscule. If the drug is well tolerated and affordable, some patients decide to take it. I usually prescribe the 40mg dose of simvastatin, but will switch to another statin (to avoid side effects) if a stronger dose is needed. As always, you should discuss this with your treating physician who knows you best.