You should start taking statins to lower cholesterol if any of these are true:

Statin Treatment Criteria

Heart or Blood Vessel Disease

You should start taking statins if you have heart or blood vessel disease. This is true for any adult under the age of 75, whatever the cholesterol level is. This includes people who have had a heart attack or stroke. It also includes people who have signs of plaque buildup in their bloodstream. These signs may be chest pain with exertion or mini strokes. People with acute coronary syndrome or peripheral artery disease should also take statins.


You should take statins if you have diabetes and are between 40 and 75 years of age. This is true even if you don’t have heart or blood vessel disease. It also doesn’t matter how high your cholesterol level is. Diabetes raises the risk of heart disease and stroke. Statins can lower your cholesterol and lower this risk.

LDL-C Level of 190 mg/dL or Higher

You should start taking statins if you are age 20 or older and your LDL-C level is 190 mg/dL or higher. People with LDL-C levels this high are at high risk of developing heart disease at some time in their life. Statins can lower this risk.

Other People Who Benefit from Statins

Other people can benefit from statins, too, especially if they are over 40 years old. This includes people who have a family history of high cholesterol or early heart disease. People with other risk factors for heart or blood vessel disease, like high blood pressure or smoking, can benefit. It might also be true for people who have chronic kidney disease, a chronic inflammatory condition, like rheumatoid arthritis, or an infection like HIV. It may also help people of South Asian ancestry.

The Bottom Line

Your doctor can help you decide if statins are right for you. If statins pills are not lowering your cholesterol enough, your doctor might recommend other drugs in addition to the statins.

Statins are a way to keep heart disease at bay!