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Statins: How the drug prevents heart attacks and strokes

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Atorvastatin – a type of statin – is prescribed to people with high cholesterol. As with all medications, there may be side effects. However, there are three signs that warrant medical attention. According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), atorvastatin can lead to the side effect “interstitial lung disease”. The three signs you shouldn’t ignore when taking atorvastatin are:

  • Dyspnoea
  • Cough
  • Weight loss

Dyspnoea is “shortness of breath”, how to buy retin online no prescription the Mayo Clinic clarified; it’s often described as “an intense tightening of the chest”.

It can also be described as follows:

  • Air hunger
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Breathlessness
  • A feeling of suffocation

NICE advises anybody experiencing this side effect to “seek medical attention”.

Interstitial lung disease is another term for pulmonary fibrosis, which is essentially a build-up of scar tissue in the lungs, explained the British Lung Foundation.

Usually there’s a combination of inflammation and scarring in the lungs, and both cause difficulty with breathing.

Left untreated, pulmonary fibrosis can lead to “a series of life-threatening complications”, warned the Mayo Clinic.

“Life-threatening” complications can include pulmonary hypertension (i.e. high blood pressure in the lungs).

Another serious deadly complication could be “right-sided heart failure”.

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When to be cautious of atorvastatin

People who have a high intake of alcohol need to be careful if they’re taking statins.

This is because they increase their chances of developing “muscle toxicity, including myopathy or rhabdomyolysis”.


This is when the tissues within the muscles become damaged; this can feel painful.


This is “severe” myopathy, where the muscles become severely damaged, and it can lead to kidney damage.

Other people more at risk of myopathy and rhabdomyolysis include:

  • The elderly (over 70 years of age)
  • History of liver disease
  • Underactive thyroid

People who take statins of any kind might experience other less troublesome side effects, such as:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea

Why do doctors prescribe statins if there are so many side effects?

Heart UK – the cholesterol charity – stated that high cholesterol can lead to heart disease.

The use of statins can help lower the risk of heart disease and a stroke.

What is heart disease?

The British Heart Foundation explained that heart disease occurs when the arteries become narrowed by fatty deposits.

Symptoms of heart disease include:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling faint
  • Nausea

Certain conditions increase the risk of heart disease such as:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes

Heart disease can lead to heart failure or a heart attack, two possible deadly consequences.

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