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Cholesterol and Statins
Why have I been offered statins?
You have been diagnosed with a condition that puts you at risk of a stroke or a heart attack.
These conditions may include Chronic Kidney Disease, a previous stroke or TIA or a form of Cardiovascular Disease such as Myocardial Infarction or Peripheral Arterial Disease.
Patients with such diagnoses are recommended to take a blood pressure tablet to reduce their blood pressure to tighter controls of less than 140/90. In a similar way you are also advised to have tighter control of your cholesterol by taking statin medication as a way of reducing risk of illness and death associated with cardiovascular disease.
We have texted you about starting a statin and advise you read the following information and self-book for an appointment to discuss statins.
What are statins?
Statins are a group of medicines that can help lower the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood.
LDL cholesterol is often referred to as “bad cholesterol”, and statins reduce the production of it inside the liver.
Having a high level of LDL cholesterol is potentially dangerous, as it can lead to a hardening and narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and cardiovascular disease (CVD).
CVD is a general term that describes a disease of the heart or blood vessels. It’s a very common cause of death in the UK.
The main types of CVD are:
• coronary heart disease – when the blood supply to the heart becomes restricted
• angina – chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscles
• heart attacks – when the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked
• stroke – when the supply of blood to the brain becomes blocked
Statins are medications used to lower the level of cholesterol in the blood and protect the insides of the artery walls.
The most commonly prescribed statin is Atorvastatin.
Statins come as tablets that are taken once a day. You will require a blood test prior to starting the statin, 3 months after staring the medication and then on an annual basis to ensure your cholesterol has improved.
We do not prescribe statins to:
People with active liver disease.
People with transaminase levels that are three or more times the upper limit of normal.
We use caution if:
You have had a haemorrhagic stroke
You have kidney disease
You regularly drink large amounts of alcohol
Side effects of statins
Many people who take statins experience no or very few side effects.
Others experience some side effects, but these are usually minor, such as diarrhoea, a headache or feeling sick.
Unfortunately there have been patients who have declined or stopped their statins due to negative media coverage- despite clinical trials showing good tolerance.
In some cases statins can rarely cause muscle inflammation (swelling) and damage to your kidneys.
If you have any symptoms that you believe may be down to your statin you should speak to your doctor or pharmacist.
The risks of any side effects also must be balanced against the benefits of preventing serious problems.
Always read your medication leaflet.
Alternatives to statins
There are other medications that can reduce cholesterol such as Ezetimibe. These are used if a patient does not tolerate a statin or the statin is not bringing down their cholesterol down to the recommended level. Your GP can speak to you about these.
For further information about statins: