This Morning: Dr Chris reveals grapefruit can affect statins
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Statins are a group of medicines that can help lower the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. The NHS says there are five types of statin available on prescription in the UK. They include atorvastatin, fluvastatin pravastatin, rosuvastatin and simvastatin.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) says: “Statins are the first-line preventive treatment in people with high cholesterol and are safe and effective for most of the population.”
The charity adds: “Statins are among the safest and the most studied medications available today.”
The Mayo Clinic says atorvastatin, along with its needed effects, may cause some unwanted effects.
It says you may need medical attention, and should check with your doctor immediately, if you experience certain side effects.
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- Difficulty with swallowing
- Fast heartbeat
- Hives, itching, skin rash
- Muscle cramps, pain, stiffness, swelling, or weakness
- Tightness in the chest
- Unusual tiredness or weakness.
The same applies if you experience puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue.
NHS England is currently reviewing whether high-dose statins can be made available directly from pharmacists.
The NHS says that you should discuss the benefits and risks of taking statins with your doctor before you start taking the medicine.
“If you find certain side effects particularly troublesome, talk to the doctor in charge of your care,” the health body adds.
The NHS notes 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.
You usually have to continue taking statins for life because if you stop taking them, your cholesterol will return to a high level within a few weeks.
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).
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 BHF says: “Drugs such as atorvastatin and rosuvastatin coming off-patent in that time have contributed to substantially lowering NHS costs, even as use continues to rise.”
It adds: “Statins are the first-line preventive treatment in people with high cholesterol and are safe and effective for most of the population.
“But some people’s cholesterol levels remain high even after trying a statin, and some cannot tolerate them, so alternative or additional cholesterol-lowering treatments are required.”
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