Statins side effects: Myalgia is most common side effect – what is it?

Statins: How the drug prevents heart attacks and strokes

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Statins are a group of medicines that can help lower the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. LDL cholesterol is dubbed the “bad” cholesterol because it collects in the vessel walls, which can choke off the blood supply to your heart or brain. Any attempts to reverse this process, such as taking statins, is therefore welcome.

Like all medications, statins cause side effects, so a cost-benefit analysis should be performed before taking them.

An article published in the journal Acta Cardiologica Sinica reviewed the current medical literature regarding the safety of statins.

Major trials and review articles on the safety of statins were identified in a search of the MEDLINE database from 1980 to 2016.

The MEDLINE database contains more than 27 million references to journal articles in life sciences with a concentration on biomedicine.

The analysis found myalgia to be the most common side effect of statin use.

Myalgia is a medical term used to describe muscle aches and pain, which can involve ligaments, tendons and fascia, the soft tissues that connect muscles, bones and organs.

The study also identified rhabdomyolysis as the most serious adverse effect from statin use, although it is very rare.

Rhabdomyolysis is a breakdown of muscle fibres that occurs due to muscle injury.

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According to the NHS, your doctor should discuss the risks and benefits of taking statins if they’re offered to you.

The risks of any side effects also have to be balanced against the benefits of preventing serious problems.

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 cholesterol

Taking statins is not the only recourse you have against high cholesterol levels.

Lifestyle and diet changes are the main ways to prevent or lower high LDL levels.

“A trial of eating a low-fat diet, regular aerobic activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and smaller waist circumference is an appropriate first step,” advises Harvard Health.

According to cholesterol charity Heart UK, losing just 10 percent of your body weight will help lower your cholesterol levels.

It’s not just your weight that’s important, it’s your shape too.

Carrying extra weight around your middle (an apple shape) can raise your blood cholesterol more than if you carry your weight all over your body or around your thighs (pear shape), warns the charity.

In addition to eating a healthy, balanced diet, there are some simple yet effective tweaks you can make to your meals.

“Go for smaller portions – we’re used to large portion sizes and often eat more than we need to without realising,” advises Heart UK.

A handy way to do this is to use smaller plates, bowls and glasses, which creates the illusion that you’re eating more than you really are, it says.

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