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Final part of our Cholesterol review..... this week....all you need to know about statins

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

Cholesterol Part 2


How effective are statins?

A study published in the BMJ in 2003 showed statins reduce LDL cholesterol by 1.8 mmol/litre. This resulted in a 60% reduction in the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks, clots, and sudden cardiac death and a 17% reduction in stroke risk.

Which statin is best?

No indication that any one statin is better than the rest


Who should be prescribed statins?

Over 20% of adults are at risk of coronary heart disease due to high cholesterol. The general guideline for people who have no previous heart problems is that statins should be used if cholesterol is high (over 6mmol/litre) and there is a cardiovascular risk of greater than 20% over the next 10 years. Cardiovascular risk depends on many factors such as age, sex, weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, family history of heart disease, whether you smoke or are diabetic. 

For those who have already suffered a cardiovascular event such as a stroke, statins are recommended if total cholesterol is over 3.5mmol/l. Guidelines state that they should be considered in all diabetic patients over 40.


Side effects

The most serious side effect of statins is a muscle complaint called myalgia which includes muscle pain and weakness. If it occurs the statin should be stopped as it can lead to a potentially fatal condition called rhabdomyolysis. One in 1000 people using statins may suffer from myalgia and one in 10,000 may suffer from rhabdomyolysis. Report to your doctor immediately if you suffer from muscle pain, tenderness or weakness while taking a statin. Statins can also raise liver enzymes which can lead to liver problems do doctors do a liver function test for those starting statins.

Gastrointestinal effects (nausea, indigestion, constipation, diarrhoea, and flatulence) are the most common side effects of statins. Headache, dizziness, and rash occur less frequently. Sleep disturbance can occur, although it seems to be more of a problem with simvastatin and atorvastatin. Most people who take statins have no problems and they are proven to save lives by preventing heart disease.


Cholesterol check at Whelehans

Heart Screening Service at Whelehans Pharmacy Pearse St includes a cholesterol check. Only takes a few minutes with instant results.


Heart Screening Prices:

Cholesterol Check: €20; Diabetes Check: €10; Haemoglobin Check: €10; Blood Pressure Check: €5

Full Heart Screening (all four tests): €40 when you book online.


Disclaimer: Our Heart Screening is not an alternative to full health check with your GP.


For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans, log on to or dial 04493 34591 (Pearse St) or 04493 10266 (Clonmore). Email queries to Find us on Facebook.


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