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. The NHS lists five types of statin available in the UK, including atorvastatin, fluvastatin pravastatin, rosuvastatin and simvastatin. As with many medicines, statins can sometimes cause side effects.
Most statins are taken at night, as this is when most of your cholesterol is produced, according to the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
Atorvastatin belongs to the group of medicines called statins, available on prescription only.
The NHS says: “Like all medicines, atorvastatin can cause side effects in some people – and different statins affect people in different ways.”
Some common side effects of atorvastatin happen in more than one in 100 people.
The NHS says these can include nosebleeds, as well as cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, blocked nose or sneezing.
The health body says that some side effects may improve after the first few days, as your body gets used to the medicine.
There are also some other common side effects. These are feeling sick, headaches, aches and pains in your back and joints, and diarrhoea or constipation.
The NHS says: “Report any unexplained muscle aches and pains, tenderness or weakness to a doctor straight away.”
Statins can sometimes interact with other medicines, and they can also interact with grapefruit juice.
Statins are taken by six million Britons but remain somewhat controversial, with many patients complaining of troublesome side-effects.
According to NICE, some people also report sleep problems and low blood platelet count, and sexual problems, such as reduced sex drive or erectile dysfunction.
Rare side effects include loss of sensation or tingling in the nerve endings of the hands and feet and tendon problems.
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.
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.
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