Statins can save lives by helping to stave off the risk of major heart events, such as a heart attack. The medications work by lowering the level o
Statins can save lives by helping to stave off the risk of major heart events, such as a heart attack. The medications work by lowering the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. LDL cholesterol can clog up your arteries and block the blood flow to your heart.
Despite the palpable health benefits, statins can cause a range of symptoms, some of which can be serious.
On the extreme end is liver failure – a life-threatening condition that occurs when your liver isn’t working well enough to perform its functions, says the NHS.
It is important to note that liver failure and other serious side effects of taking statins is rare.
The British Heart Foundation states that just one in every 10,000 people who take statins will experience a potentially dangerous side effect.
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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 that around one in every 50 people who take the medication for five years will avoid a serious event, such as a heart attack or stroke, as a result.
According to the NHS, you should discuss the benefits and risks of taking statins with your doctor before you start taking the medication.
“If you find certain side effects particularly troublesome, you should talk to the doctor in charge of your care,” advises the health body.
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It adds: “Your dose may need to be adjusted or you may need a different type of statin.”
Alternatives to statins
It is important to note that you can also lower your cholesterol by improving your lifestyle.
There are several foods which are not just part of a healthy diet – they actively help to lower your cholesterol too.
According to cholesterol charity Heart UK, cutting down on saturated fat is a great way to lower your cholesterol and look after your heart.
“Oily fish is also a good source of healthy unsaturated fats, specifically omega-3 fats,” notes Heart UK.
“Aim to eat two portions of fish per week. At least one of which should be oily.”
Oily fish and other sources of unsaturated fat can be found in The Mediterranean diet.
The Mediterranean diet is high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil.