This Morning: Dr Chris reveals grapefruit can affect statins
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Statins are taken by six million Britons but remain somewhat controversial, with many patients complaining of very troublesome side-effects. Nonetheless, many people who take statins experience no or very few side effects. Statins can help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in older people, just as they do in younger people, according to research.
The NHS lists five types of statin available in the UK, including atorvastatin, fluvastatin pravastatin, rosuvastatin and simvastatin.
It adds that side effects can vary between different statins, but common side effects include some around digestive issues.
These digestive system problems include constipation, diarrhoea, indigestion or farting.
Uncommon side effects of statins include being sick, memory problems, hair loss, pins and needles and sexual problems, such as loss of libido.
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The health body says: “Statins can occasionally cause muscle inflammation (swelling) and damage.
“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 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.”
It adds that NHS England is currently reviewing whether high-dose statins can be made available directly from pharmacists.
You may have been advised to take statins if you’ve had a heart attack or stroke. Even if you’re in good health, you may be prescribed statins if you’re at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Statins can sometimes interact with other medicines, and they can also interact with grapefruit juice.
The Yellow Card Scheme allows you to report suspected side effects from any type of medicine you’re taking.
It’s run by a medicines safety watchdog called the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The purpose of the scheme is to provide an early warning that the safety of a medicine or a medical device may require further investigation.
The NHS says that you should discuss the benefits and risks of taking statins with your doctor before you start taking the medicine.
Most statins are taken at night, as this is when most of your cholesterol is produced, according to the BHF.
The BHF says: “It’s important to take your medication regularly as prescribed. Most statins are taken at night, as this is when most of your cholesterol is produced. Check with your doctor or pharmacist when you should be taking your statin.”
The charity also notes that a research study suggested that in very rare cases statins may increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The NHS says 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.
You may have been advised to take statins if you’ve had a heart attack or stroke in order to reduce your risk of another cardiac event.
The National Heart Foundation of New Zealand (NHF) says you should seek emergency medical help if you notice swelling of your mouth, lips or tongue, “as this could be an allergic reaction”.
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