Doctors often prescribe statins for people with high cholesterol to lower their total cholesterol and reduce their risk of a heart attack or stroke. In fact it feels as if they are handed out like sweets these days, because so many of my parent’s generation take them. I guess we’re very lucky to have access to medication that will help to lower our cholesterol, but I’m wondering if we should be resorting to statins so readily.
Associated side effects
Like a lot of medications, statins can cause unpleasant side effects. The common side effects, which affect up to 1 in 10 people, include nosebleeds, feeling sick, headaches, digestive problems and muscle pain.
There are also quite a few reported uncommon side effects, which may affect up to 1 in 100 people. These include loss of appetite or weight gain, sleeping problems and dizziness.
There are lots of other reported side effects, some of which are very scary, like memory problems, blurred vision and a higher occurrence of diabetes. Some people may be at a greater risk than others, particularly those over 65. Research also suggests that females with a smaller body frame are more at risk of experiencing side effects when taking statins.
Is it worth the risk?
Not everyone who takes statins will experience side effects, but I’d rather not take the risk if I can control my cholesterol naturally through diet instead. If feels like a no brainer to me, especially as the diet changes aren’t very drastic, so are pretty easy to incorporate. Also, cholesterol-friendly foods provide a whole host of other benefits, as they are full of nutrients and minerals, so not only will you manage your cholesterol, but you’ll be much healthier overall and full of energy.
So my aim is to continue eating a diet that is focused on keeping my cholesterol as low as possible, so that hopefully I won’t ever need to take statins. Obviously you can’t eat ‘perfectly’ all the time so I’m sticking to the 80:20 rule, which seems to keep me on track and stops me from feeling deprived. I’ve kept it up for 5 months now, and my cholesterol is still in the ‘desirable’ range, so it seems to be working. Hopefully I’ll keep it up.