It is important to get your cholesterol levels checked routinely as too much can cause a stroke or even a heart attack. The good news is that it is a simple process involving a blood test that can be done by pricking your finger.
If your cholesterol levels are too high, you may be prescribed statin medication to reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Here, we provide an overview of how statins work, how long you should take them for, the side effects of the medication and if there are any alternatives.
What are statins?
Statins are a group of medicines used to help lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in the blood. If you have a high level of this ‘bad cholesterol’ in your blood, your chances of suffering a cardiovascular disease (CVC) increase significantly. In America alone, one person dies every 36 seconds from cardiovascular disease. To be more specific, 655,000 people die (1 in 4) from heart disease every single year.
The four most common types of CVC are:
- Heart attacks
- Coronary heart disease
You may have been recommended to take statins if you have either been diagnosed with a form of cardiovascular disease or your family medical history indicates that you are likely to develop it at some point in your life.
How do Statins work?
Statins work at reducing the amount of cholesterol in your blood by stopping production and helping your body reabsorb existing cholesterol. They do this by blocking an enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase.
Given that your body requires cholesterol to perform important functions such as food digestion, it will need to find other sources of cholesterol. When you take statin medication, your body uses the cholesterol that has built up as fatty deposits (plaques) in your arteries. In addition to cholesterol, these plaques are made up of fatty substances, calcium, fibrin, and cellular waste products.
How do I take statins?
Statins are taken as tablets once a day. Depending on the type of statin you are prescribed, you may have been told to take one in the evening – though for many types of statin, it does not matter what time you take it provided that you take it at the same time every day. If you ever forget to take statins, do not take an additional tablet. Instead, take your next recommended dose as normal the next day.
Typically, people who are prescribed statins will have to take the medicine every day for the rest of their lives to prevent cholesterol levels from increasing again.
If you are unsure about anything, including the time of day you should take your statin, we recommend speaking to a professional as soon as possible.
Are there any side effects?
As with many forms of medication, statins can cause a range of side effects that you must be aware of. While some people may experience little to no side effects, others may suffer some minor, common side effects. They include:
- Low blood platelet count
- Sleeping problems
- Muscle pain
- Digestive problems
Uncommon side effects of taking statins include:
- Hair loss
- Memory problems
- Short-term tingling and numbness
- Skin problems, including an itchy red rash and acne
- Sexual problems, such as erectile dysfunction and loss of libido (reduced sex drive)
- Inflammation of the liver (hepatitis)
- Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
Rare side effects of statins include:
- Tendon problems
- Tingling or loss of sensation in your hands and feet (peripheral neuropathy)
- Muscle weakness (myopathy)
If you are currently taking any other medication, you must inform your doctor or speak with a pharmacist before taking statins. When mixed with other medicines, statins can cause unpleasant side effects, including muscle damage and abdominal cramping.
What are the alternatives to statins?
If you are at risk of developing cardiovascular disease, your doctor may recommend simple lifestyle changes before prescribing statins. These include eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and quitting smoking.
While there are several cholesterol-lowering alternatives to statins, we highly recommend speaking with a pharmacist or physician who can advise you where necessary.
Choose Medix Pharmacy for your statin medication
We understand that purchasing medication online can feel intimidating. But at Medix Pharmacy, it does not have to be. With us, you can feel confident knowing that we take your health, safety and general wellbeing seriously.
As long as you have the appropriate prescription, our highly qualified pharmacists can offer you an inexpensive solution to lowering your cholesterol. Talk to a member of our team today. Simply contact 1-866-500-6633 (toll-free phone number) or email [email protected] today.