Statins: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Statins are medicines that lower your LDL cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is a type of fat in your blood. LDL cholesterol is the "bad" cholesterol that builds up inside the blood vessel walls. It makes them too narrow. This can block blood flow to the heart or brain. And it can cause a heart attack or stroke. LDL cholesterol also raises your total cholesterol levels.

You can improve your cholesterol levels by making lifestyle changes. These include eating less animal fat and getting plenty of exercise. But for some people, this is not enough. You need medicines to lower your cholesterol.

Statins lower the risk of heart attack, stroke, and early death for people who have heart disease or are at high risk for heart disease. They do this by blocking how much cholesterol your body makes. You must take statins regularly for them to work well. If you stop, your cholesterol will go back up.

Examples of statins include:

  • Atorvastatin (Lipitor).
  • Lovastatin (Mevacor).
  • Pravastatin (Pravachol).
  • Simvastatin (Zocor).

Statins interact with many medicines. So tell your doctor which other medicines you take, including gemfibrozil, fenofibrate, niacin, ketoconazole, and erythromycin.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take statins exactly as your doctor tells you. High cholesterol has no symptoms. So it is easy to forget to take the pills. Try to make a system that reminds you to take them.
  • Do not take two or more medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Statins can interact with other medicines.
  • Always tell your doctor if you think you are having a side effect. If side effects are a problem with one medicine, a different one may be used.
  • Keep making the lifestyle changes your doctor suggests. For example, eat less animal and trans fat, eat more fruits and vegetables, and get more exercise.
  • Talk to your doctor about avoiding grapefruit juice if you take statins. Grapefruit juice can raise the level of this medicine in your blood. This could increase side effects.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You have side effects of statins. These include:
    • Fatigue.
    • Upset stomach.
    • Gas.
    • Constipation.
    • Pain or cramps in the belly.
    • Muscle aches.
  • You have any new symptoms or side effects.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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