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Cholesterol lowering medicines (statins) (Kidney)

Patient information A-Z


The following are some examples of brand names of statins:

  • Simvastatin
  • Atorvastatin
  • Pravastatin
  • Fluvastatin

What are statins and what do they do?

Statins are used to lower cholesterol in the blood. If you have too much cholesterol in your blood, you are at risk of heart disease or stroke.

It is particularly important to maintain low blood cholesterol levels if you have kidney problems as people with kidney problems are at a higher risk of having problems with their heart and of developing heart disease or suffering with a heart attack or stroke.

Why am I prescribed a statin?

You have been prescribed a statin by your doctor because the cholesterol level in your blood is higher than recommended. By taking the statin, your cholesterol level will hopefully fall to the recommended level.

It is important that you also try to follow a healthy low-fat diet and try to take some exercise.

How do I take my statin tablets?

Statins are usually taken at night. Your doctor might change your dose after a blood test to get your blood cholesterol just right. Always follow the instructions on the label about the number of tablets to take.

Do I need to have any tests or be monitored because I am taking a statin?

You will need to have regular blood tests whilst taking a statin to monitor your cholesterol level and also your liver, as occasionally statins can cause the enzymes in your liver to change. Your will need blood tests every three months when you start on a statin but less frequently (every six to twelve months) once you have been taking the tablets for some time.

Are there any side effects?

When you start taking your statin you might notice side effects for a short time such as:

  • Headaches
  • Sleeping problems
  • A rash
  • Pains in your chest
  • Unexplained loss of hair

Tell your doctor if you have any strange effects from taking your statin.

Special warnings or precautions you need to be aware of:

Tell your doctor straight away if you:

  • Get muscle pain or weak muscles as very occasionally statins can cause muscle problems.
  • If you feel generally unwell or if you notice your skin has turned yellow as very occasionally statins can cause problems with your liver.

Are there any problems taking statin tablets with any other medications or foods/drinks?

Avoid drinking grapefruit juice if you are on Simvastatin as this can increase the risk of side effects.

Only take tablets prescribed for you by your doctor and check with your pharmacist before taking any new medicines.

Further information

Further information about your tablet can be found in the patient information leaflet found in the tablet/capsule box or on the container.

If you have any other questions about your medication, please contact the medicines helpline on 01223 217502.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

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Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151