This Morning: Dr Chris reveals grapefruit can affect statins
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Like all medications, statins have potential side effects, some of which may occur throughout the day, and are more common than others. It is thought that more than seven million Britons take these drugs. Statins lower the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood, which is often referred to as “bad cholesterol”, and statins reduce the production of it inside the liver.
You may need to take statins if you’ve had a heart attack or stroke, in order to reduce your risk of another cardiac event.
The NHS says that there are five types of statin available on prescription in the UK.
They include atorvastatin, fluvastatin pravastatin, rosuvastatin and simvastatin.
The health body notes: “Like all medicines, atorvastatin can cause side effects in some people – and different statins affect people in different ways.”
It reports that some common side effects of atorvastatin “happen in more than one in 100 people”.
These include some side effects which may show up when you go to the toilet, including constipation, wind and diarrhoea. Other signs include:
- Feeling sick (nausea) or indigestion
- Aches and pains in your back and joints
- Sore throat
- Cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, blocked nose or sneezing.
The NHS advises: “Some side effects may improve after the first few days, as your body gets used to the medicine.
“Keep taking the medicine, but talk to your doctor or pharmacist if these side effects bother you or don’t go away.”
The health body notes that side effects can vary between different statins, but common side effects can occur throughout the day and also at night.
Uncommon side effects include skin problems, such as acne or an itchy red rash. The NHS adds that statins can occasionally cause muscle inflammation and damage.
Rare side effects include loss of sensation or tingling in the nerve endings of the hands and feet, and tendon problems.
It suggests: “Speak to your doctor if you have muscle pain, tenderness or weakness that cannot be explained – for example, pain that is not caused by physical work.”
The BHF says that a research study suggested that in very rare cases statins may increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
“However statins are among the safest and the most studied medications available today,” the health body suggests.
It notes that a review of scientific studies into the effectiveness of statins found around one in every 50 people who take the medicine for five years will avoid a serious event, such as a heart attack or stroke, as a result.
The NHS recommends maintaining cholesterol levels below 5mmol/L. In the UK, however, three out of five adults have a total cholesterol of 5mmol/L or above, and the average cholesterol level is about 5.7mmol/L, which can be a risk factor in heart disease.
The Yellow Card Scheme allows you to report suspected side effects from any type of medicine you’re taking.
It is run by a medicines safety watchdog called the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
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