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High cholesterol: Risk of 'fatal' side effect of commonly prescribed medication

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Rosuvastatin comes in the form of a tablet you take by mouth. It is also available as the brand name drug Crestor. Rosuvastatin is used to reduce your high cholesterol levels and increase your HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

The prescription drug also reduces your levels of triglycerides (fats in your blood). Improving your cholesterol levels helps to prevent blockages from forming in your arteries.

These blockages can cause serious problems, including heart attack or stroke.

Unlike other medications used to help cholesterol levels, rosuvastatin does not cause drowsiness, but can bring more worrying side effects instead.

The more common, minor side effects that can occur with use of rosuvastatin include:

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  • Headache
  • Pain in the abdomen (stomach area)
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Weakness.

If these effects are mild, they tend to disappear within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they are more severe or do not go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist – advises the NHS.

Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

Severe muscle problems:

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  • Unexplained or unusual muscle pain
  • Weakness
  • Fever.

Liver problems:

  • Unexplained or unusual weakness
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Pain in the abdomen (stomach area)
  • Dark-coloured urine
  • Yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes.

The NHS advises you to call your doctor straight away if you have serious side effects.

When taken with rosuvastatin, some other drugs used to treat high cholesterol can increase the levels of rosuvastatin in your blood.

The NHS advises that if you develop these symptoms, call 999.

They also advise not to take the medication again if you have ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be “fatal”.

If your body does not respond well to rosuvastatin, there are alternative ways to reduce your cholesterol.

Staying fit and healthy and having a balanced diet that includes more fibre and less saturated fats.



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