Statins: The best time of day to take statins – when the drug offers the ‘most’ help

Statins: How the drug prevents heart attacks and strokes

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Statins provide a crucial lifeline for millions of people at risk of heart disease because they help to lower high cholesterol levels. LDL cholesterol aka the “bad” cholesterol gums up the inside of your arteries, thereby raising your risk of heart disease. Statins lower high cholesterol by blocking an enzyme that helps the liver make cholesterol.

The evening is the most optimal time of day to take statins, according to Harvard Health.

The health body explains: “In most people, cholesterol production peaks late in the evening.

“The body breaks down fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (generic, Mevacor), pravastatin (generic, Pravachol), and simvastatin (generic, Zocor) fairly quickly.”

Taking them in the evening therefore “ensures that you have enough medicine on board when you need it the most”, it says.

“Two other statins, atorvastatin (Lipitor) and rosuvastatin (Crestor) aren’t broken down as readily, so you can take them any time.”

Are there any side effects?

Like all medicines, statins can cause side effects. But most people tolerate them well and do not have any problems.

“You should discuss the benefits and risks of taking statins with your doctor before you start taking the medicine,” explains the NHS.

Side effects can vary between different statins, but common side effects include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling sick
  • Feeling unusually tired or physically weak
  • Digestive system problems, such as constipation, diarrhoea, indigestion or farting
  • Muscle pain
  • Sleep problems
  • Low blood platelet count.

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

A review of scientific studies into the effectiveness of statins found around 1 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.

How to lower high cholesterol naturally

Eating a healthy diet and doing regular exercise can help lower the level of cholesterol in your blood.

“If you have high cholesterol, it’s most important to eat less saturated fat,” says the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

Foods that are high in saturated fats are things like fatty and processed meat, pies and pastry, butter, cream, and coconut oil.

According to the BHF, the best way to eat a better diet is to swap your saturated fats with foods that are high in unsaturated fat like vegetable oils (sunflower, olive and rapeseed oil), nuts seeds and avocado and oily fish.

“Eating high-fibre food can also help to lower your cholesterol,” says the health body.

It explains: “Fibre helps reduce the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed into the bloodstream from your intestine.”

How much exercise is optimal?

You should aim to do at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of exercise a week, advises the NHS.

Some good things to try when starting out include:

  • Walking – try to walk fast enough so your heart starts beating faster
  • Swimming
  • Cycling.

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