Cholesterol is a fat-like substance produced mostly in the liver and important in the structure of cells throughout the body as well as the manufacture of various hormones. Cholesterol is a major constituent of the waxy atherosclerotic deposits that gradually can clog up the inside of the arteries, usually raising the blood pressure (hypertension). When these deposit develop in crucial arteries, such as the coronary vessels of the heart, they can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
In 1994 it was reported that the link between cholesterol and heart disease is at least twice as strong as previously thought. The new studies say that a 10% fall in cholesterol translates into a cut in the death risk of 50% by age 40, by 40% by 50, and by 30% at age 60. Although there is little benefit seen in the first two years, the reduction in risk is apparent after 5 years. A Scottish study from 1995 showed that lowering one's cholesterol by 20% with a drug reduced the risk of heart attack by 28% even in those who had no previous known heart trouble.
Common statin side-effects can be diabetes, pancreatitis, cataracts, muscle and joint pain and peripheral neuropathy.