Statins: How the drug prevents heart attacks and strokes
Statins are a group of medicines that can help lower the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. LDL cholesterol is a waxy substance that is caused by eating too much fatty food. It can clog up your arteries so interventions such as taking statins are welcome. The cholesterol-medications are not entirely harmless, however.
Many people who take statins experience no or very few side effects, but some can experience troubling complaints.
The nature of the side effects are determined by the specific type of statins one is taking.
There are a host of side effects associated with taking atorvastatin – a popular type of statin.
According to the NHS, four side effects may show up on your nose.
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- Runny nose
- Blocked nose
Other side effects include:
- Feeling sick (nausea) or indigestion
- Aches and pains in your back and joints
- Sore throat
- Constipation or wind
As the NHS explains, the risks of any side effects also have to be balanced against the benefits of preventing serious problems.
“Your doctor should discuss the risks and benefits of taking statins if they’re offered to you,” says the health body.
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The heart-healthy benefits of taking statins are demonstrable, however.
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.
Alternative approaches to lowering high cholesterol
There are a host of lifestyle changes you can make to lower high cholesterol.
One of the important countermeasures is to commit to a heart-healthy diet plan.
Omega 3 fats – a group of unsaturated fats – are essential for heart health.
According to cholesterol charity Heart UK, eating foods high in omega 3s could help to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
There are different types of omega 3s which are found in different foods.
According to Heart UK, oily fish, such as sardines, salmon and mackerel are the best source of EPA and DHA – particular types of omega 3.
There has been lots of research into Omega 3 fats and oily fish and how they can improve heart health.
In countries where people eat more oily fish, such as in the Mediterranean, Greenland and Japan, fewer people have heart disease compared to countries where people eat very little oily fish, such as the UK.
“The Omega 3 fats EPA and DHA can help protect the heart and blood vessels from disease,” explains Heart UK.
Other key tips to lower high cholesterol include:
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Limiting the amount of alcohol you drink
- Stopping smoking.
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