This Morning: Dr Chris reveals grapefruit can affect statins
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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 a significant risk factor for heart disease because it sticks to the walls of your arteries. Research published in the BMJ suggests taking statins in the evening is more propitious than the morning.
In fact, taking statins in the morning can cause “significant” rises in cholesterol, the study found.
“Doubt has been cast on whether statins need to be taken at night, particularly as many patients also receive treatment with other cardioprotective drugs and compliance may be compromised by multiple dosing,” wrote the study’s researchers.
They sought to determine whether taking simvastatin in the morning had significantly different efficiency from taking it in the evening, by measuring cholesterol concentrations in fasting patients’ serum.
Simvastatin is one of the main types of statin prescribed.
The researchers randomised 27 men and 33 women of mean age 66 taking the drug in the mornings or in the evenings.
The morning doses were sampled blood between 8:30 and 9:30 am.
They measured fasting blood lipid profiles at baseline and at eight weeks.
Patients randomised to dosing in the morning were told not to omit it on the day of the follow up blood sample.
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The primary outcome measure was change in fasting total cholesterol concentration between baseline and follow up.
The researchers assumed that the lipid profiles of these patients would not change between baseline and follow up.
However, “switching taking simvastatin from in the evening to in the morning resulted in statistically significant increases in total and low density lipoprotein cholesterol”, they wrote.
In their concluding remarks, the researchers said: “Simvastatin is probably best taken at night because concentrations of total cholesterol and of low density lipoprotein are significantly greater when it is taken in the morning.
“Simvastatin is the most widely prescribed statin in the United Kingdom, and this finding has implications for compliance in preventing coronary heart disease.”
They added that “the absence of a similar effect with atorvastatin may be explained by its longer elimination half life”.
Atorvastatin is another common type of statin prescribed in the UK.
Statins side effects
Many people who take statins experience no or very few side effects.
“Others experience some troublesome, but usually minor, side effects, such as diarrhoea, a headache or feeling sick,” warns the NHS.
According to the health body, your doctor should discuss the risks and benefits of taking statins if they’re offered to you.
It’s important to note that 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.
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