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The debate on taking statins for high cholesterol and even what constitutes high cholesterol is likely to continue for a while. But according to a report in Time Magazine, there is now "old thinking" and "new science" at odds about this important topic.

Old thinking:  Those with high cholesterol should take a statin.

New science:  Not everyone with high cholesterol numbers needs a statin drug.

Instead, they may need another type of medication, or none at all. Statins are not for everyone. They can cause side effects that include severe muscle weakness, enough that some people stop taking their prescribed medication.

Scientists in one study found that 30 percent of those with high total cholesterol may not have enough fatty deposits lining their arteries to pose a real problem. A special scan could detect who has a build-up of potentially dangerous plaque and who doesn't, allowing for more effective treatment.

For others, traditional cholesterol-lowering medications are still not enough. A new class of drugs was approved in 2015, known as PCSK9 inhibitors.  They were designed for those with extremely high cholesterol due to genetics. On the downside, most insurance companies don't yet cover the cost of the medication. (Source: "Cholesterol Drugs," Time, Feb 8, 2016).
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