Statin: The serious side effects that signal lung disease and pancreatitis – call your GP

Statins: How the drug prevents heart attacks and strokes

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Simvastatin is one such statin. It is prescribed to people with high blood cholesterol, but also those with a family history of heart disease, or a “long-term” health condition such as rheumatoid arthritis. Doctors can also offer it to patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

According to the NHS, it is “unusual” to experience side effects from taking simvastatin, but around one in 1,000 do.

It warns to stop taking the medication and call your GP or 111 if you do notice any of the serious effects.

This includes if the whites of your eyes turn yellow, or your skin turns yellow – or if you have pale poo and dark pee.

“These can be signs of liver problems,” the service says.

And if you have a cough, feel short of breath, and have lost weight – this “can be a sign” of lung disease.

It also advised calling 111 in the event of these other side effects:

You get unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, weakness or cramps (this is more likely if you’re taking a higher dose of simvastatin, and it can happen a few weeks or months after you first start taking this medicine) – these can be signs of muscle breakdown and kidney damage.

You have severe stomach pain – this can be a sign of acute pancreatitis.

You get a skin rash with pink-red blotches, especially on the palms of your hands or soles of your feet – this could be a sign of the skin reaction, erythema multiforme.

The NHS adds: “Like all medicines, simvastatin can cause side effects in some people, but not everybody gets them.

“Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you do get any side effects and they bother you, or do not go away.

“They may recommend trying a lower dose of simvastatin, or a different statin.”

Certain people are advised not to take simvastatin at all.

This includes pregnant and breastfeeding women.

And the NHS warns people not to drink grapefruit juice while taking it.

“It can increase the level of simvastatin in your blood,” it says.

“Because your body makes most of its cholesterol at night, it is better to take simvastatin in the evening.”

Simvastatin is available on prescription as tablets.

It can also be bought as a low strength, 10mg tablet from a pharmacy.

And it is available as tablets combined with other medicines that lower cholesterol.

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