Statins: Antibiotics, HIV medications, and alcohol can cause side effects


Statins divide opinions. While the evidence points to the obvious benefits of taking them – they offer protection against a heart attack or stroke – they can cause side effects. It is therefore important to consider the pros and cons before taking them.

“Statins can react unpredictably with certain other substances (known as ‘interactions’), potentially increasing the risk of serious side effects, such as muscle damage,” warns the NHS.

Drugs that may interact with certain types of statins include:

  • Certain antibiotics and antifungals
  • Certain HIV medications
  • Warfarin – a drug commonly used to prevent blood clots
  • Ciclosporin – a medicine that suppresses the immune system and is used to treat a wide range of conditions, including psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Danazol – a synthetic (man-made) hormonal medicine used to treat conditions such as endometriosis
  • Verapamil and diltiazem – types of medicines called calcium channel blockers, which are used to treat various conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels
  • Amiodarone – a medicine sometimes used to treat irregular heartbeat
  • Fibrates – drugs that, like statins, help lower cholesterol levels in the blood.

“Grapefruit juice can affect certain statins and increase your risk of side effects,” warns the NHS.

Additionally, people who regularly drink large amounts of alcohol are at increased risk of having more serious side effects, he notes.

READ MORE: Side Effects of Statins: Two Fruits That Can Be a ‘Dangerous Mix’ If You Take Statins

“For more details on warnings and interactions for your specific drug, see the accompanying Patient Information Leaflet.”

It is important to note that the risks of side effects should also be weighed against the benefits of preventing serious problems.

A review of scientific studies on the effectiveness of statins found around one in 50 people who take the drug for five years will help prevent a serious event, such as a heart attack or stroke, as a result.

How to lower cholesterol naturally

You can also lower your cholesterol by making lifestyle changes.

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Other ways to lower cholesterol include weight loss; be physically active; and follow a healthy diet, inspired by the traditional Mediterranean diet.

Why a Mediterranean diet?

“We have known for some time that people living in countries along the Mediterranean seem to have less heart disease than people living in the UK and northern Europe,” says Heart UK.

“Health professionals now believe that this may be in part due to the foods that make up the traditional Mediterranean way of eating.”

According to Heart UK, one of the best components of the diet is oily fish.

The Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, grains, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats like olive oil.

It generally includes low consumption of meat and dairy products.

This is now considered a good way to eat – both for a healthy heart and for general well-being.

Exercise can also improve cholesterol.

The Mayo Clinic explains, “Moderate physical activity can help raise high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the ‘good’ cholesterol.

HDL cholesterol has earned its reputation by eliminating LDL cholesterol – the harmful cholesterol.

“With your doctor’s approval, get at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week or vigorous aerobic activity for 20 minutes three times a week,” advises the Mayo Clinic.

He adds, “Adding in physical activity, even at short intervals several times a day, can help you start losing weight.”

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