Affecting more than 100 million Americans, high cholesterol is a common yet significant health threat – it is a major risk factor for heart disease, the leading cause of death in this country. Yet, since high cholesterol doesn’t have any recognizable symptoms, many people don’t take it seriously.
According to America’s Health Rankings 2018, 33 percent of Arizonians have high cholesterol,  so it’s important that Phoenix residents take steps to get their cholesterol levels under control before it’s too late. For those who aren’t yet proactively managing their high cholesterol, or who are unsatisfied with their current treatment plan, it’s imperative that they talk to their doctor. The stakes are too high not to.
Understanding How High Cholesterol Occurs
First, it’s important to understand what causes high cholesterol. For some, it’s consuming foods that are high in saturated fats (primarily derived from animals) and trans fats (found in some tropical oils). For others, a genetic predisposition may render their bodies unable to remove low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (also known as “bad” cholesterol) from the blood, leading to unhealthy cholesterol levels.
Regardless of a person’s diet and family history, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that all adults age 20 and older should have their cholesterol checked every four to six years with a simple blood test. When elevated cholesterol levels are left untreated, this can lead to the buildup of a hard, thick substance called plaque, which can narrow the arteries, slowing down and even blocking the flow of blood to the heart. If the blood supply to the heart becomes blocked, it can cause a heart attack; similarly, if blood flow to the brain is blocked, it can lead to a stroke.
Multiple Treatment Options To Lower Cholesterol
Fortunately, there are ways that people can manage their high cholesterol, reducing their risk of heart disease or stroke. Dr. Shawn Dhillon, Medical Director of Calvert Medical Group in Baltimore, typically recommends that people with high cholesterol make lifestyle adjustments including eating a heart-healthy diet and getting consistent exercise. For appropriate patients who aren’t able to achieve their cholesterol goals through these changes alone, Dhillon often prescribes a statin medication.
Statins, widely considered to be the gold standard in cholesterol management, are among the most prescribed medications in the United States. Yet, studies show that a staggering number of patients discontinue their statin treatment, with only 55 percent of U.S. adults who need cholesterol medicine that are currently taking it.
“Statins are extremely effective in helping to prevent some dire health consequences, but like all medicines, they can’t work if they aren’t being taken as prescribed. Remember, high cholesterol has no signs or symptoms – so a patient can quit his or her statin and feel fine, but what’s going on inside the body is another story,” said Dhillon. “It’s important to understand that statins are broken down differently in the body, and one that’s right for a certain patient may not be right for the next. Thankfully, there are many statin treatment options, so if a patient is experiencing statin challenges, they must bring this up to their doctor so that they can identify another statin that might be better suited for them.”
Not All Statins Are Created Equal
Since not all statins are the same, doctors will consider individual factors such as the age of the person, other medical conditions they may have, and/or other medicines they may be taking when making prescribing decisions. LIVALO® (pitavastatin) is one such statin medication that has been proven to reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol by up to 45 percent and in clinical trials has low rates of certain side effects. Compared to most other statins, LIVALO also has a reduced potential to interact with other medications that a patient may be taking.
Finding The Right Statin For You
Debbie D. – a patient taking a statin for high cholesterol – knows the importance of finding the right statin to fit her personal needs. Following her high cholesterol diagnosis nearly two decades ago, Debbie experienced painful muscle aches – a side effect of the other statins she tried before LIVALO. “I was prescribed a variety of statins for cholesterol to see if my leg cramps would cease, but nothing worked,” explained Debbie. “I couldn’t do the things I liked to do because of the leg cramps. But then one day, my cardiologist suggested I try LIVALO.”
Three years later, Debbie’s cholesterol is under control and she’s enjoying life without statin side effects slowing her down. “I jump out of bed like it is nothing. I run, I exercise, I take long walks, I have family time and vacations. And I’m very connected to my grandchildren, we do a lot of things together.” Debbie says. “It took finding the right medication, and for me, it was LIVALO.”
Information Is Vital
As a nurse, Debbie was fortunate to have accurate medical information at her fingertips to fuel open cholesterol conversations with her doctor. However, Dhillon says many people would benefit from greater basic cholesterol knowledge, including the importance of staying on statin treatment that’s working but discussing challenges with a doctor when it’s not.
“If I could offer people with high cholesterol one piece of advice, it would be to remember this: your doctor is your partner in this journey, and he or she is there to help you find and stick to the treatment plan that’s right for your individual needs. Share what you are experiencing and put heart health at the top of your priority list,” said Dhillon.
Visit livalorx.com to learn more.
Who Should NOT Take LIVALO?
LIVALO is not right for everyone. Do not take LIVALO if:
- You have a known allergy to LIVALO or any of its ingredients.
- You have active liver problems, including some abnormal liver test results.
- You are nursing, pregnant or may become pregnant, as it may harm the baby.
- You are currently taking cyclosporine or gemfibrozil.
What Is The Most Important Information I Should Know And Talk To My Doctor About?
- Call your healthcare provider or get help right away if you experience any symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as rash, itching, or hives.
- Muscle problems may be an early sign of rare, serious conditions. Tell your doctor right away if you have any unexplained muscle pain, weakness, or tenderness, particularly if accompanied by malaise or fever, or if these muscle signs or symptoms persist after discontinuing LIVALO.
- Serious liver problems have been reported rarely in patients taking statins, including LIVALO. Your doctor should do liver tests before you start, and if you have symptoms of liver problems while you are taking LIVALO. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you feel more tired than usual, have a loss of appetite, upper belly pain, dark-colored urine, or yellowing of the skin or eyes.
- Tell your doctor about all your medical conditions and medications you take including nonprescription medicines, vitamins, or herbal supplements.
- Increases in blood sugar levels have been reported with statins, including LIVALO.
- Tell your doctor about your alcohol use.
- Tell your healthcare provider of a known or suspected pregnancy.
What Are The Most Common Side Effects Of LIVALO?
The most common side effects of LIVALO in clinical studies were:
- Back pain
- Muscle pain
- Pain in the legs or arms
This is not a complete list of side effects. Talk to your healthcare provider for more information.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA.
Visit http://www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
How Should I Store And Take LIVALO?
- Store LIVALO tablets at room temperature, in a dry place, and out of the reach of children.
- LIVALO can be taken at any time of day, with or without food.
- Swallow the tablet whole. Do not split, crush, dissolve, or chew.
- Do not exceed 4 mg once daily dosing of LIVALO.
Other Important Information I Should Know About LIVALO.
- LIVALO has not been studied to evaluate its effect on reducing heart-related disease or death.
- LIVALO is available by prescription only.
For additional information, please see the full Prescribing Information or visit http://www.LivaloRx.com
© Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Inc. (6/2019) – LIV-RA-0111 PI of 11/2016
 America’s Health Ranking. High Cholesterol in Phoenix. https://www.americashealthrankings.org/explore/annual/measure/High_Chol/state/AZ. Accessed March 9, 2019.
 Salami, J, Warraich H, Valero-Elizondo JV. JAMA Cardiology. National Trends in Statin Use and Expenditures in the US Adult Population From 2002 to 2013 Insights From the Medical Expenditure PanelSurvey. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamacardiology/fullarticle/2583425. Accessed February 6, 2019.
 Mercado, C, DeSimone, AK., Odom, E. et al. Pub Med. Prevalence of Cholesterol Treatment Eligibility and Medication Use Among Adults–United States, 2005-2012. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26633047. Accessed February 6, 2019.