This Morning: Dr Chris reveals grapefruit can affect statins
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Statins are taken by around six million Britons but remain somewhat controversial, with many patients complaining of troublesome side-effects. As with many medicines, statins can sometimes cause side effects, though not everybody who takes a statin has them. Statins can sometimes interact with other medicines, increasing the risk of side effects, such as muscle damage. Nonetheless, they can lower your risk of heart attack and stroke, and you may be advised to take them if lifestyle changes have not reduced your cholesterol level.
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,” it adds.
The NHS says that there are five types of statin available on prescription in the UK. They include atorvastatin, fluvastatin pravastatin, rosuvastatin and simvastatin.
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. 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 health site Drugs.com says that there are several potential simvastatin side effects.
These include bladder pain, bloody or cloudy urine, dark-coloured urine, difficult, burning, or painful urination, a frequent urge to urinate, and increased urination.
The NHS says: “Like all medicines, statins can cause side effects. But most people tolerate them well and do not have any problems.”
Common side effects include a headache, dizziness, feeling sick, and feeling unusually tired or physically weak.
Digestive system problems, such as constipation, diarrhoea, indigestion or farting, are also common.
Uncommon side effects of statins include being sick, memory problems, and hair loss.
Statins can occasionally cause muscle inflammation and damage.
The NHS says: “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.”
Most statins are taken at night, as this is when most of your cholesterol is produced, according to the British Heart Foundation (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.
“However statins are among the safest and the most studied medications available today,” it suggests.
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.
Side effects reported on Yellow Cards are evaluated, together with additional sources of information such as clinical trial data.
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