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This Morning: Dr Chris reveals grapefruit can affect statins

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The British Heart Foundation (BHF) says that around 7 to 8 million adults in the UK take them, and over 71 million prescription items were dispensed in 2018. It notes that statins became available in the late 1980s to reduce the risk of further heart attacks in people who’d already had one. They 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.

The NHS says that there are five types of statin available on prescription in the UK. They include atorvastatin, fluvastatin pravastatin, buy cheap atarax nz no prescription rosuvastatin and simvastatin.

The health service notes that many people who take statins experience no or very few side effects, though others will experience “some troublesome, but usually minor, side effects, such as diarrhoea, a headache or feeling sick”.

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.

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 UK government says: “All effective medicines can cause side effects in some patients and a small proportion of patients taking statins will inevitably experience side effects.

“Although they may be distressing to the individual concerned and limit that individual’s willingness or ability to tolerate statin use, statin-related side effects are generally mild and not medically serious.”

It says that “muscle-related problems are the most frequently reported side effect of statins”.

It suggests that the risk of myopathy, any disease that affects the muscles that control voluntary movement in the body, “is increased with all statins”.

The NHS 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.

“Your doctor may carry out a blood test to measure a substance in your blood called creatine kinase (CK), which is released into the blood when your muscles are inflamed or damaged.”

The health body says that uncommon side effects of statins include being sick, memory problems, hair loss, pins and needles, and skin problems, such as acne or an itchy red rash.

Rare side effects of statins include muscle weakness, loss of sensation or tingling in the nerve endings of the hands and feet and tendon problems.

Experiencing these symptoms while taking statins is most likely to happen just after starting your medication course, as the body gets used to its presence in the body over time.

It is important to seek medical advice if you feel concerned by any side effects.

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 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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