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Statins: How the drug prevents heart attacks and strokes

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Atorvastatin is a statin that can also prevent heart disease, including heart attacks and strokes. It might also be prescribed to someone with a family history of heart disease, or a long-term health condition such as type 1 or type 2 diabetes. However, it does carry some side effects that could require immediate medical attention.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “puffiness” or “swelling” of the eyelids or around the eyes is one such side effect.

“Check with your doctor immediately,” it says.

It could also cause puffiness in the face, lips or tongue.

The Mayo Clinic explains: “Along with its needed effects, citalopram and medicare a medicine may cause some unwanted effects.

“Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.”

It lists other “less common” or “rare” side effects of atorvastatin as:

  • Cough
  • Difficulty with swallowing
  • Dizziness
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Fever
  • Hives, itching, skin rash
  • Muscle cramps, pain, stiffness, swelling, or weakness
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness.

While more common side effects include headache, hoarseness, lower back or side pain, pain or tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones, painful or difficult urination and stuffy or runny nose.

Some side effects of atorvastatin could also be a sign of more serious health conditions as a result.

The NHS advises calling a doctor if:

You get unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, weakness or cramps – these can be signs of muscle breakdown and kidney damage.

The whites of your eyes turn yellow, or your skin turns yellow, although this may be less obvious on brown or black skin, or if you have pale poo and dark pee – these can be signs of liver problems.

You get a skin rash with pink or red blotches, especially on the palms of your hands or soles of your feet – this could be a sign of erythema multiforme.

You have severe stomach pain – this can be a sign of acute pancreatitis.

You have a cough, feel short of breath, and are losing weight – this can be a sign of lung disease.

It adds: “Drinking a lot of alcohol regularly increases the chance of you having side effects with atorvastatin, and liver problems.”

Atorvastatin is generally safe for people aged 10 and over.

But it is not recommended if you:

  • Have ever had an allergic reaction to atorvastatin or any other medicine
  • Have liver or kidney problems
  • Think you might be pregnant, are already pregnant, or you’re breastfeeding
  • Have lung disease
  • Have previously had a stroke caused by bleeding into the brain
  • Regularly drink large amounts of alcohol
  • Have an underactive thyroid
  • Have had muscular side effects when taking a statin in the past
  • Have ever had a muscle disorder (including fibromyalgia).

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