How to avoid common side effects of statin (Cholesterol medication) and how to prevent taking them in the first place

 The Benefits:


Let's discuss first the reasons why is prescribed and the improvements expected from these kind of medications


- Lowering the Cholesterol will reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and angina


- Reducing LDL: with regular blood tests you should be able to see the LDL cholesterol levels reducing with time 



Type of medication:

- Atorvastatin is one of the most famous and commonly prescribed 

- Lovastatin, Fluvastatin, Simvastatin are the alternatives, this last one seems to reporter fewer side effects




Side effects:

Let's discuss now some of the most frequent side effects occurring


-  Muscle pain

It depends on the person and can be soreness or in certain cases affect your daily activity but is really rare to have serious muscles damages from the statins, so the point is that really depends on how much is affecting your everyday activities


- Liver inflammation

This is rare but can happen, also need to consider if the inflammation is mild you might continue the medication but if it's severe then is recommended to discuss alternatives with your Doctor


- Increased blood glucose

Is important that the lifestyle changes are not aimed just to improve your cholesterol but also your glucose levels, especially if they were already high, to avoid developing diabetes


- Other side effects

Headaches, dizziness, constipation or diarrhoea 



Factors that can increase the risks of developing side effects:


- Alcohol intake

There are many damages that alcohol can make, but interfering with medications is one more 


- Grapefruit  (including juice) 

Because is interfering with the medication components, need to consider this as an ingredients if present in any processed food


- Antibiotics 


- Having kidney or liver disease 




How to reduce the side effects:

Disclaimer: all these options need to be discussed first with your Doctor after explaining what kind of side effects you are experiencing if any


- L carnatine supplements

This supplements can help with muscle pain and at the same time reduce the risk of increased glucose levels 


- Changing your exercises 

It's important to avoid high intensity exercises and when possible to take more breaks in between and this applies to daily activities too if you notice that you are doing anything too extreme that can cause muscle pain itself and enhance the side effects



- Alternative statins 

Since there are different medications, one can work better for you 


- Change in dosage or taking a break

Your Doctor might suggest this option to also see if the side effects are actually connected to the medication or not, for example muscle pain could be caused by a different reason



How to prevent all of this in the fist place:

Lifestyle changes can help you getting the cholesterol levels back in control to avoid starting the medication in the first place

It's not an easy process and it takes time, but if you have the motivation to start with the changes then you can really make the difference and avoid high cholesterol and having to take statins


- Diet is one of the most important factor and down below you will find practical tips to help you makiing the right choices, keep in mind that cholesterol ONLY comes from animal sources including butter, milk, eggs and anything processed that have them as an ingredients


- Exercise, this is something that makes the difference, since statins side effects can increase the muscle pain after exercise, it will be hard to break the circle once started with statins, so the best thing is to start before this when you still have the time to do that 


- Stop smoking and reducing as much as possible with the alcohol



Conclusion:

Is important to understand the benefits and if possible to continue taking the medication if the side effects are not that noticeable because in the long term the prevention of stroke and heart attack it's a much bigger reason to continue than a mild soreness, on the other hands since there are different medication is worth to give a chance to these options before stopping them 


Useful links:


https://www.safdietitian.com/2022/06/nutritional-advice-on-how-to-improve.html



https://www.safdietitian.com/2022/08/detailed-list-of-food-to-help-you-lower.html



https://www.safdietitian.com/2020/07/protein-alternatives-or-simply-having.html

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