Statins: The time of day you take statins may influence ‘frequency of adverse events’

Statins confer protection against heart disease by reducing the production of cholesterol inside the liver. Millions of lives have doubtlessly been saved as a result of taking statins. However, in rare circumstances, cholesterol-lowering drugs can cause side effects.

Research suggests the timing of the day influences the “frequency of adverse events”.

It has long been understood that taking specific statins in the evening is more optimal than in the morning.

The rationale being that the liver enzyme that produces cholesterol is more active at this time.

A study published in the journal Karger found another surprising insight: that taking statins in the morning may lower the “frequency of adverse events”.

The study compared the efficacy and tolerability of morning and evening administration of fluvastatin – a common type of statin.

Over the course of eight weeks, 236 patients were randomised to receive fluvastatin in the morning or evening for eight weeks.

The researchers found “The frequency of adverse events was slightly lower in the morning treatment group compared with the evening treatment group.”

That was not the only surprising insight to come out of the study.

Despite the medical consensus that taking certain statins is more favourable in the evening, the study found no “statistically significant” difference between the two times of day.

At eight weeks, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels were reduced by 34.5 and 35 percent in the morning and evening treatment groups, respectively.

LDL cholesterol is the harmful type of cholesterol that raises your risk of heart disease.

What are the side effects to expect?

Side effects can vary between different statins, but common side effects include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling sick
  • Feeling unusually tired or physically weak
  • Digestive system problems, such as constipation, diarrhoea, Indigestion or farting
  • Muscle pain
  • Sleep problems
  • Low blood platelet count.

It’s worth noting that most people tolerate them well and do not have any problems.

Nonetheless, “you should discuss the benefits and risks of taking statins with your doctor before you start taking the medicine”, advises the NHS.

The health body continues: “If you find certain side effects particularly troublesome, talk to the doctor in charge of your care.

“Your dose may need to be adjusted or you may need a different type of statin.”

The Yellow Card Scheme allows you to report suspected side effects from any type of medicine you’re taking.

The risks of any side effects also have to be balanced against the benefits of preventing serious problems.

It’s run by a medicines safety watchdog called the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

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.


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