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This Morning: Dr Chris reveals grapefruit can affect statins

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Statins are a crucial lifeline if you are at risk of heart disease because they work to counter the harmful effects of high cholesterol. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that gathers inside your arteries, increasing the risk of a blockage. Statins intercept this process by reducing the production of cholesterol inside the liver.

Despite the palpable health benefits of taking statins, the cholesterol-lowering medication can interact with certain dietary items, making side effects more likely.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), grapefruit and pomegranate can be a “dangerous mix”.

The adverse interaction with these fruits only occurs with certain types of statin, however.

Such as those “marketed under brands such as Lipitor, Mevacor and Zocor”, how much is retin a notes AHA.

Also, “do not drink grapefruit juice if you’re taking the statin simvastatin”, warns the NHS.

“Grapefruit juice increases the level of simvastatin in your blood and makes side effects more likely.”

What’s more, atorvastatin (another type of statin) interacts with grapefruit juice if you drink large quantities (more than 1.2 litres daily), but an occasional glass is thought to be safe, says the health body.

“Currently, healthcare professionals advise it is safe to drink grapefruit juice and eat grapefruit if you’re taking other types of statins.”

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What side effects can I expect?

One of the most common complaints of people taking statins is muscle pain.

“You may feel this pain as a soreness, tiredness or weakness in your muscles,” explains the Mayo Clinic.

According to the health body, the pain can be a mild discomfort, or it can be severe enough to make your daily activities difficult.

“Very rarely, statins can cause life-threatening muscle damage called rhabdomyolysis (rab-doe-my-OL-ih-sis),” it notes.

Rhabdomyolysis can cause severe muscle pain, liver damage, kidney failure and death.

It is important to note that many people who take statins experience no or very few side effects.

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.

How to lower cholesterol without statins

There are natural alternatives that can lower high cholesterol levels.

Lifestyle changes include eating a healthy, balanced diet.

Shunning foods high in saturated fat is key to this effort.

Saturated fats are the type that raise blood cholesterol,” warns cholesterol charity Heart UK.

Many foods contain saturated fat. They’re found in animal foods, such as meat, butter and other dairy products, and foods that are made with them, such as cakes and biscuits.

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