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Statins lower your risk of heart attack and stroke, by reducing your cholesterol levels. Read about the types of statins, how they work and their side effects.

Types of statin

  • atorvastatin, also called Lorstat, Zarator
  • pravastatin also called Apo-Pravastatin, Cholvastin, Pravachol
  • rosuvastatin also called Crestor
  • simvastatin also called Arrow-Simva, Lipex.

How do they work?

Statins are used to lower the bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) levels in your blood. High cholesterol can cause coronary artery disease which increases your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.

What are the side effects?

You may experience some unwanted effects when taking a statin. These can include:

  • muscle aches
  • stomach upsets and gas.

Ring 111 if you have any of the following:

  • severe chest pain
  • severe headache
  • acute shortness of breath
  • swelling of your mouth, lips or tongue, as this could be an allergic reaction.

Talk to your doctor if your side effects are worrying you. Don't stop taking your medication without talking to your doctor first. The benefit usually outweighs the side effects.

There's a very small chance that taking a statin can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, the benefits of taking it to reduce your cholesterol usually outweigh the side effects.

What happens if I miss a dose?

It’s important to take your medication daily and not to skip a dose.

If you forget to take a dose, take it immediately, then continue as normal the following day. However, if it's almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue as normal. 

Do NOT take a double dose.

What checks do I need?

You will need regular blood tests to check your cholesterol levels.

What else do I need to know?

Studies show that statins work best if you take them in the evening. Some statins work better if you take them with a meal. Talk to your pharmacist about when is the best time to take your medication.

Tell your health professionals if you’re taking any: 

  • supplements
  • natural medicines
  • vitamins
  • alternative therapies. 

These can sometimes make your heart medication less effective.

Grapefruit and grapefruit juice can affect the way your liver processes some statins and increase side effects, so you may need to avoid it or reduce your intake. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about what’s recommended for you. 

Statins help reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke. However, it is important to use them in combination with lifestyle changes such as eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising regularly and reducing your alcohol intake.

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