This Morning: Dr Chris reveals grapefruit can affect statins
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The medication is used to 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 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. You may also be able to lower your cholesterol by eating healthily and getting more exercise.
The Mayo Clinic notes that there are several signs you are experiencing the side effects of statins.
It says that some people will notice red, irritated eyes. Other people experience pain or tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones.
Some people also find increased sensitivity of the eyes to light or that they have blurred vision.
The health site says not all of these side effects may occur, though if they do occur they may need medical attention.
READ MORE: High cholesterol: Indications on your toes and fingers that levels are dangerously high
The NHS notes that common side effects include headaches, dizziness, feeling sick, and feeling unusually tired or physically weak.
You may also notice that you have digestive system problems, such as constipation, diarrhoea, indigestion or farting.
It adds: “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 NHS says that there are five types of statins available on prescription in the UK. They include atorvastatin, fluvastatin pravastatin, rosuvastatin and simvastatin.
It is thought that more than seven million Britons take these drugs. 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 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.
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.”
It 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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