Statins: How the drug prevents heart attacks and strokes
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Statins are a class of drugs that provide a bulwark against heart disease by reducing the production of LDL cholesterol inside the liver. LDL cholesterol, also branded the “bad” cholesterol, is a waxy substance that can clog up your arteries. Mounting evidence suggests you can enhance the efficacy of taking statins by supplementing with psyllium fibre.
Psyllium is a gel-forming viscous soluble fibre – a type of fibre that dissolves in water to form a gel-like material.
Studies have pointed to reductions in cholesterol after soluble fibre intake was increased.
This prompted researchers in a study published in The American Journal of Cardiology to wonder whether concomitant use of psyllium would cause further overall cholesterol lowering in subjects already receiving statins.
A systematic review of the medical literature was performed and identified three randomised, controlled clinical studies that evaluated the cholesterol lowering efficacy of statins when given concomitantly with psyllium as a fibre supplement.
The duration of the studies ranged from four weeks to 12 weeks.
The objective of the meta-analysis was to estimate the overall effect of psyllium plus statin versus statin alone.
The results of the meta-analysis showed a “clinically and statistically significant cholesterol lowering advantage” for psyllium plus statin combination treatment over a statin alone, the researchers wrote.
What’s more, adding psyllium fibre resulted in reductions in LDL equivalent to doubling the statin dose, they noted.
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“In conclusion, the data support that psyllium fibre taken before meals adds to the efficacy of statins, providing an easy to implement dietary intervention for those who cannot tolerate side effects associated with higher-dose statins.”
It ‘s important to consult your doctor first before experimenting with different dietary approaches while on statins.
Taking statins in the evening can also enhance the cholesterol-lowering effects of the drug.
Harvard Health explains: “Statins block an enzyme that helps the liver make cholesterol. In most people, cholesterol production peaks late in the evening.”
According to the health body, the body breaks down fluvastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin, and simvastatin fairly quickly.
“So taking them in the evening ensures that you have enough medicine on board when you need it the most.”
It adds: “Two other statins, atorvastatin and rosuvastatin aren’t broken down as readily, so you can take them any time.”
How long should I take statins for?
You usually have to continue taking statins for life.
According to the NHS, this is because if you stop taking them, your cholesterol will return to a high level within a few weeks.
“If you forget to take your dose, do not take an extra one to make up for it. Just take your next dose as usual the following day,” advises the health body.
If you accidentally take too many statin tablets (more than your usual daily dose), contact a doctor or pharmacist for advice or call NHS 111, it says.
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