In the three decades since cholesterol-lowering statin drugs hit the market, they’ve been hailed as a medical breakthrough for cardiovascular disease (CVD), now the nation’s number-one killer, responsible for the deaths of one in four Americans. They’ve also become the biggest selling class of pharmaceuticals of all time: More than 24 million Americans are now estimated to take statins.

“It’s well-established that statins can lower the risk of [CVD],” says Robert Rountree, MD, holistic physician and Delicious Living’s medical editor. But new research, he says, “indicates the primary mechanism by which statins lower risk is not by reducing LDL cholesterol but instead by decreasing systemic inflammation.”

And if that’s the case, there are plenty of diet, lifestyle, and supplement strategies that can accomplish the same thing—without potential side effects ranging from muscle pain to liver damage. If you are already taking statins, making healthy changes may allow you to reduce or even eliminate statin use over time, with guidance from a health care professional. Here’s what you need to know to make an informed decision.