This Morning: Dr Chris reveals grapefruit can affect statins
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Statins are a group of medicines that can help lower the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. This is significant because LDL cholesterol is a waxy substance that builds up inside the body, thereby raising your risk of heart disease. Research suggests you can enhance the drug’s ability to lower LDL cholesterol.
It’s generally advised that statin users wait until the evening to take their statins because the body is optimised to reduce cholesterol at this time of day.
Research published in the Medical Journal of Malaysia supports this advice.
The study aimed to investigate the impact taking simvastatin at different times of the day has on cholesterol levels.
Simvastatin is one of the main types of statin prescribed in the UK.
For the study, 147 statin users were and randomised into one of the three groups (after breakfast, after dinner or before bedtime).
Differences in LDL cholesterol levels from the beginning of the study were compared with the changes observed at the end of the study among the three groups.
What did the researchers find out?
The differences in LDL reduction between three groups were significantly different.
The researchers concluded that the “greatest reduction” in LDL was observed when simvastatin was taken before bedtime.
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“Simvastatin showed superior LDL reduction and higher level of adherence when being instructed to be taken before bedtime,” the researchers added.
Why the evening?
Harvard Health explains: “Statins block an enzyme that helps the liver make cholesterol. In most people, cholesterol production peaks late in the evening.
“The body breaks down fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (generic, Mevacor), pravastatin (generic, Pravachol), and simvastatin (generic, Zocor) fairly quickly.”
So, the health body points out, taking them in the evening ensures that you have enough medicine on board when you need it the most.
“Two other statins, atorvastatin (Lipitor) and rosuvastatin (Crestor) aren’t broken down as readily, so you can take them any time.”
Alternative means of lowering cholesterol
Statins are not for everyone and some people find they can lower their cholesterol levels through natural means alone.
There are two central pillars that underpin cholesterol control – diet and exercise.
“To reduce your cholesterol, try to cut down on fatty food, especially food that contains a type of fat called saturated fat,” advises the NHS.
Saturated fat examples include:
- Meat pies, sausages and fatty meat
- Butter, lard and ghee
- Cream and hard cheese, like cheddar
- Cakes and biscuits
- Food that contains coconut oil or palm oil.
The NHS says to do at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of exercise a week.
Some good things to try when starting out include:
- Walking – try to walk fast enough so your heart starts beating Faster
“Try a few different exercises to find something you like doing. You’re more likely to keep doing it if you enjoy it,” adds the NHS.
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