Statins: What happens if I stop taking statins? NHS issues grave health warning

Statins: What happens if I stop taking statins? NHS issues grave health warning

Statins: How the drug prevents heart attacks and strokes

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Statins are a group of medicines that can help lower the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. LDL cholesterol is commonly referred to as the “bad” cholesterol because it can gum up the inside of your arteries, thereby hiking your risk of heart disease. Statins can halt and reverse this process.

Statins are typically a lifelong commitment and stopping them suddenly can have adverse consequences.

The NHS explains: “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.”

You won’t get any withdrawal symptoms, notes the health body.

But it can increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes, it warns.

“If you want to stop taking your medicine, it’s important to find another way to lower your cholesterol.”

Are there any side effects to expect from taking statins?

One of the most common complaints of people taking statins is muscle pain.

Users commonly characterise this pain as a soreness, tiredness or weakness in your muscles.

The pain can be a mild discomfort, or it can be severe enough to make your daily activities difficult.

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However, researchers have found a “nocebo” effect when it comes to perceived muscle pain and statins.

The term describes how people who have negative expectations about a medication report experiencing the potential side effect at higher rates than the drug should cause.

The Mayo Clinic puts the actual risk of developing muscle pain as a result of taking statins at about five percent or less compared with taking a pill that doesn’t contain medication (placebo).

However, studies have found that nearly 30 percent of people stopped taking the pills because of muscle aches even when they were taking a placebo.

The risks of any side effects also have to be balanced against the benefits of preventing serious problems.

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.

Natural ways to lower high cholesterol

High cholesterol levels can also be lowered by overhauling your diet.

“Healthy eating can make a huge difference to your cholesterol levels and your heart health, whether your cholesterol has crept up over the years or you have a genetic condition,” notes cholesterol charity Heart UK.

The most effective dietary swap is to replace saturated fat with unsaturated fat where possible.

Saturated fat typically comes from animal sources, including meat and dairy products, as well as some plant foods, such as palm oil and coconut oil.

Unsaturated fats are mostly found in oils from plants and fish, unsaturated fats can be either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated.

There’s good evidence that replacing saturated fats with some unsaturated fats can help to lower your cholesterol level.

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