Many people take statins to lower their cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. These drugs are effective, affordable and accessible – but well-known side effects like muscle pain keep some people from taking them. In an effort to reduce these barriers, the UK government allowed some low-dose statins to be sold over the counter in the form of a tablet.
What is considered a low dose statin depends on your individual health status and the type of statin you have been prescribed. The dosage will also be determined by your doctor’s experience in managing the treatment of statin-related symptoms. It is important for you to attend regular follow up appointments with your doctor so they can monitor your response to the medication and adjust your dosage accordingly.
It is important for you to understand that while some patients can suffer from statin-related side effects, these can be successfully managed with a change in the dosage, or even switching to another statin. Your doctor will discuss this with you and explain how to manage these side effects.
If you are at a high risk of heart attacks and strokes, you should aim to keep your LDL (bad) cholesterol below 100 mg/dL, or 2.6 mmol/L. Your doctor may recommend a higher target level for you, depending on your other risk factors.
In order to determine whether you are at a high risk of having a heart attack or stroke, your doctor will consider your overall health and cholesterol levels as well as other risk factors for heart disease, such as smoking habits, blood pressure, body mass index (BMI) and family history. Your doctor will also use online tools or calculators to help them better assess your risk.