Are you taking a statin or have been offered one recently? Statins are drugs that lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
How often do you need blood tests?
Cholesterol blood tests
Only patients with previous heart disease need to have an annual cholesterol check as they have a target to achieve in lowering cholesterol. New guidelines advise that this does not need to be a fasting blood test.
If you do not have heart disease but are taking a statin to lower cholesterol and help prevent heart disease then you only need cholesterol checked at the start of treatment, you do not need a routine annual blood test.
Liver function tests
For everyone taking statins it is important to check your liver function at the start of treatment, after 3 months and then again after 12 months but further routine blood tests are not needed beyond the first year.
You can find more information on statins at
You can find a good and balanced view about the extended use of statins from Dr Sarah Jarvis at
It is important that you help lower your risk of heart disease, even if you have not been offered or prescribed a statin. The most important things we would advise you to do to lower your risk are;
- Eat well (low fat ‘Mediterranean’ diet ideally; see www.patient.co.uk)
- Get regular exercise (aim for two and a half hours of exercise weekly)
- Don’t smoke (at all) and please ask for help on this if you need it - if you are a smoker and stop you may reduce your risk significantly
- Drink alcohol only moderately (less than 21 units a week for men and 14 units for women)
Taking a statin to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke (PDF, 498KB)