Statins: Regularly drinking large amounts of alcohol risks more serious side effects – NHS

This Morning: Dr Chris reveals grapefruit can affect statins

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The NHS says the doctor will also ask you how much alcohol you drink before prescribing statins. It says people who regularly drink large amounts of alcohol are at increased risk of getting more serious side effects. The health body says that if you are prescribed a statin, you may be able to continue drinking alcohol. However, you should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week.

The NHS says it is recommended to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, spread across three days or more.

That’s around six medium (175ml) glasses of wine, or six pints of four percent of beer.

The NHS states: “There’s no completely safe level of drinking, but sticking within these guidelines lowers your risk of harming your health.”

Indeed, it suggests regularly drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week risks damaging your health.

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It continues: “If you drink less than 14 units a week, this is considered low-risk drinking. It’s called “low risk” rather than “safe” because there’s no safe drinking level.”

The NHS adds: “New evidence around the health harms from regular drinking have emerged in recent years.”

For example, long-term heavy drinking can lead to your heart becoming enlarged. This is a serious condition that can’t be completely reversed, but stopping drinking can stop it getting worse.

The NHS also warns: “Regular drinking can affect your body’s ability to fight infections. Heavy drinkers tend to catch more infectious diseases.”

It adds with statins grapefruit juice can affect some statins and increase your risk of side effects.

The NHS says there are five types of statin available on prescription in the UK. They include atorvastatin, fluvastatin pravastatin, rosuvastatin and simvastatin.

The health body notes side effects can vary between different statins, but common side effects can occur throughout the day and also at night.

These include a headache, dizziness, feeling sick, muscle pain, and feeling unusually tired or physically weak. Others also report digestive system problems. This can include constipation, diarrhoea, indigestion or farting.

Two other common side effects are sleep problems and low blood platelet count. Uncommon side effects include skin problems, such as acne or an itchy red rash.

The health body adds statins can occasionally cause muscle inflammation and damage.

The NHS says rare side effects of statins include loss of sensation or tingling in the nerve endings of the hands and feet ,which is called peripheral neuropathy.

It suggests: “Speak to your doctor if you have muscle pain, tenderness or weakness that cannot be explained – for example, pain that is not caused by physical work.”

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.

You usually have to continue taking statins for life because if you stop taking them, your cholesterol will return to a high level within a few weeks.

The NHS recommends maintaining cholesterol levels below 5mmol/L. In the UK, however, three out of five adults have a total cholesterol of 5mmol/L or above, and the average cholesterol level is about 5.7mmol/L, which can be a risk factor in heart disease.

The Yellow Card Scheme allows you to report suspected side effects from any type of medicine you’re taking. It is run by a medicines safety watchdog called the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

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