Hypertension And High Cholesterol

Is Pravastatin Safe

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Prevastatin is the generic name for the drug more commonly prescribed under the names Pravachol®  and  Selektine®  and is designed to lower cholesterol levels and thereby reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients who have been diagnosed as having levels of “bad” cholesterol which are above the range considered as normal or safe.

Cholesterol known as “good” cholesterol is scientifically labelled High Density Lipoprotein or HDL, whereas that considered “bad” cholesterol is Low Density Lipoprotein, or LDL.  The effect of taking Prevastatin is to lower the total cholesterol levels (i.e. both LDL and HDL)

Dr Jane Armitage, FRCP of Oxford University, writing in ‘The Lancet’ magazine (Vol.370, Issue 9601 – November 24 2007) on the safety of statins in clinical practice, concludes that: “For most people, statins are safe and well-tolerated, and their widespread use has the potential to have a major effect on the global burden of cardiovascular disease.

Dr Armitage acknowledges that in a minority of patients, the use of certain statins can produce myopathy, a weakening of the muscles, but says that discontinuation of statin treatment will invariably reverse this effect.  In the case of Prevastatin, there is no evidence to suggest that myopathy is any more or less likely to occur than with any other statin, and drug usage information supplied with the drug makes this potential side-effect clear to the user who takes the time and trouble to read the information leaflet.

Dr Armitage also states that the production of transaminases in the liver is increased with all statins, but that this is “not clearly associated with an increased risk of liver disease.”

A totally contrary view is taken by the controversial internet marketer, Dr Joseph Mercola, who lists side effects of statins including sexual dysfunction and cataracts. You may wish to question whether a physician qualified in osteopathy is genuinely qualified to make such pronouncements, but they certainly make alarming reading, and call into question the safety and efficacy of all statins, including Prevastatin.

A well-rounded and more neutral view is provided by the Mayo Clinic which argues that the use of statins in certain patients may be very valuable but that there are dietary and lifestyle changes which may obviate the need for a person to take statins. It is therefore reasonable to assess your lifestyle, and not just the numbers on your blood cholesterol reading, before unquestioningly accepting your doctor’s prescription for statins.

As with many drugs, there is a great deal of research still to be done before anyone will really know the long-term safety level of Prevastatin.  As no statin was approved for medical use until 1987, it is hard to know the effect of a person taking the drug over many years.

The conclusion as to question of whether Prevastatin is safe must be a cautious “yes”, but with a number of caveats.  Are there other things you could do to lower your blood cholesterol levels without the need for medication?  Have you carefully read and understood all the warnings provided with the drug?  Are you taking the correct dosage?  If you recognise any of the side effects have you consulted your physician?

If all precautions have been taken, you undergo regular medical checks, you’re feeling good and your blood cholesterol level is now at a level recognised to be safe then you can probably assume that for you, Prevastatin is safe and be sure in the knowledge that the alternative of heart attack or stroke would be a very great deal worse than swallowing your daily tablet.

More about this author: Colin Morley

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