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    Types of cholesterol  
    Cholesterol and heart disease  
    Reducing cholesterol level  
    Treatment for high
    Other drugs  

How can medication help?

The main type of drugs used to reduce cholesterol levels is statins. Examples of statins are simvastatin, pravastatin, rosuvastatin, atorvastatin and fluvastatin. Statins can reduce total cholesterol levels by more than 20%, and LDL levels by more than 30%. Overall, they can reduce the risk of having a heart attack or stroke by about a quarter.

Statins can help to stabilise the atheroma (the build-up of fatty deposits) within the lining of the arteries and so reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke. This is why most people who are at high risk of coronary heart disease, stroke or peripheral arterial disease or who have diabetes are prescribed a statin drug even if they have a normal cholesterol level.

Many of these have been tested in long-term trials that have looked not just at the cholesterol levels they produce but also at their effect on health and long-term safety. For people who are already at high risk of having a heart attack, the benefits of taking statins are likely to outweigh the possible risk of side effects.

Your doctor will choose the best statin and dose for you, depending on your medical history and your target cholesterol level. Simvastatin is no longer patented, which means that it is much cheaper than other statins. So, if you’re taking a statin other than simvastatin, your doctor may suggest that you swap to simvastatin. This is sensible because it can work well for most people. However, if your doctor is planning to change your statin, you should have a blood cholesterol test before and after the change to make sure that simvastatin works well for you.

Statins are not suitable for people who have liver disease or for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Most statins should be taken in the evening, because our bodies make most of our cholesterol at night. However, you can take atorvastatin and rosuvastatin at any time.

If you are taking the statin drug simvastatin, you should avoid drinking grapefruit juice or eating grapefruit. However, if you’re taking another statin, such as atorvastatin, you could have small quantities of grapefruit juice (or the grapefruit).

Possible side effects of statins
Unwanted effects of statins can include feeling sick, being sick, diarrhoea and headaches.
A rare side effect of statins is inflammation of the muscles (myositis). If you have any unexpected muscle pain, tenderness or weakness, you should tell your doctor. He or she may change the type of statin you are taking, or the dose.

      Doctor Tips
Angina is an uncomfortable feeling or pain in the chest.
It usually feels like a heaviness or tightness.
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