Struggling with medical advice - Statins

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  • wannabe_a_saver
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    My grandfather wouldn't take his statins due to media scare stories.  He had a good diet and exercised, but he had a lot of mini strokes and eventually developed vascular dementia (caused by lots of mini strokes).  

    Trust me, you do not want that if you can at all avoid it. 
  • Stratus
    Stratus Posts: 254 Forumite
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    As you asked for guidance I suggest you read, read and read again. Educate yourself on the subject so you can view your doctors comments with a degree of perspective and subject knowledge. As you are questioning taking statins you might want to read books from authors with medical backgrounds that share your concerns and scepticism.

    Dr Malcolm Kendrick is one possible place to start. His 2018 book, A Statin Nation is an easy read.

    This is a follow up from his earlier 2008 classic, The Great Cholesterol Con.

    There's also, Fat and Cholesterol Don't Cause Heart Attacks and Statins Are Not The Solution

    Some of these might be available from your local library if it has reopened.

    You also mention that you follow a healthy diet but what does that really mean? Many would argue that the UK's 
    dietary guidelines are not healthy by shunning dietary fat. The metabolic health of our nation has become far worse since these guidelines were introduced in the 1980s. That, however, is another topic but perhaps not completely unrelated.
  • sheramber
    sheramber Posts: 19,360 Forumite
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    I was on one statin for 11 years before I developed side effects. My GP  told me I was not the first to experience that.

    I was changed to another one and have been okay on it for the last 10 years.
  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 0 Forumite
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    edited 23 April 2021 at 6:43PM
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    I hope you do not mind me asking this sheramber.  When you took statins for 11 years, with no side effects, how much did your cholesterol level 'drop' or did it stay the same?  I have to admit I'm still a bit confused although I will continue, for now, having only just started taking the statin.

    I am asking because if the cholesterol levels don't drop in a significant way, it makes me more wary.  Also - if the cholesterol levels do drop - is it possible, at that point with continued monitoring, to stop taking the statins?  My heart sinks at the prospect of being on stations very long term but, if I have to, I will do it.  I don't want a stroke or heart attack especially if preventable on statins.

    I really do appreciate all the helpful replies although, at times, I find it overwhelming.  Although what would be a proper discussion. The strong recommendation to take the statins.

    My discussion with my GP was, owing to shortage of time, more of a very brief chat.  My GP seemed absolutely certain that I should take the statins and I did not ask many questions.

  • Stratus
    Stratus Posts: 254 Forumite
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    You appear to be coming from the standpoint that having a high cholesterol level is bad for your health. This is not necessarily so.

    Next time you have a chat with your doctor, ask them, if you take a statin every day for the rest of your life, how much longer, on average, can you expect to live. Is that not what you are really interested in?
  • stumpygibbon
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    Your GP should be able to tell you the percentage risk of you having a stroke/heart attack with and without statins (personalised based on your weight, blood pressure etc.). There are also patient decision aids available which most GP surgeries have. 

    The likelihood is you would be taking the statin for life - if it lowers your cholesterol that just means that its worked. Statins do other things than just lowering cholesterol (e.g. they also prevent plaques in your arteries that may already exist from bursting - its these burst plaques that can cause a heart attack). 

    Anecdotally, most of the people I know who take statins have been fine - there are one or two who've had to swap to another because of side-effects, but they're fine on the second one. I'd say its a good idea to try it, and if you're at all worried about side-effects, let your GP know and you can swap to another. If you do wish to stop altogether, tell your GP. 
  • Stompa
    Stompa Posts: 8,348 Forumite
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    With a cholesterol level of 5.3 my GP suggested that I could either go on statins or try some so-called lifestyle changes. I chose the latter, and a combination of losing some weight, eating a healthier diet, more exercise and the use of plant stanols (aka Benecol) did the trick and reduced my level to 3.8 in around 3 months.
    Stompa
  • Jami74
    Jami74 Posts: 1,043 Forumite
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    My big worry is that, because of side effects and my aversion to statins, I am not following firm medical advice.  I also feel concerned in case I am left on statins indefinitely.  I am aged 70 and female. Family members (who know nothing about my present situation) show obvious side effects from statins, including involuntary neck movements, I don't  know what they are called, which are relieved by having to put their chin on their chest - really noticeably.  I see this in a friend's  husband as well - and other noticeable things including swollen feet.

    The side effects that your family and friends seem to be suffering from are not common side-effects of simvastatin. Swollen ankles can be a sign of heart failure, and many people with heart failure are on statins. Some blood pressure medications can produce ankle swelling too. I can't think why a statin would cause involuntary neck movements. People have such a poor view of statins, often they're on multiple medications yet it is always the statin that gets the blame for side effects. Obviously we are all different and some people get on better with one statin than another, if you do experience side effect then let your GP know, there might be an alternative one you are willing to try. It is your body and your choice what to put into it, but try to make as an informed decision as you can. Only you can weigh up the balance between protecting your heart and your aversion to statins, and this balance may change over time as your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol come down and depending on any side effects you might experience.
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