What are Statins?
Statins are a class of drugs that are most commonly prescribed to help lower high levels of cholesterol. These medications target the levels of LDL cholesterol, while simultaneously work towards boosting the levels of HDL cholesterol in the body. When you have high levels of LDL cholesterol, it can start accumulating on the arterial walls. This causes a reduction in blood flow through the arteries, thus increasing the risk of heart disease, coronary artery disease, stroke, heart attack, and other related diseases.
Statins help lower the levels of LDL cholesterol by inhibiting an enzyme that the body requires for producing cholesterol. Statins also help cut down the plaque (made up of cholesterol) that has already built up in your arteries. In this manner, statins reduce the risk of many heart-related diseases and a stroke or heart attack.
Why Should You Take Statins At Night?
Most doctors recommend that you take statins at night. This is because the body’s cholesterol-manufacturing enzyme is most active during the night, which makes the statins more effective when taken at night. Furthermore, the half-life of statins, or the amount of time it takes for half of the dosage of the statin to leave the body, is not too long. The half-lives of some statins are even less than six hours. This is why statins are most effective when taken at night.
For example, simvastatin is a good example of a statin that works most efficiently if it’s taken in the evening. Studies have shown that there is a higher reduction in LDL cholesterol levels when simvastatin is taken at night, when compared to this statin taken in the morning.
Another statin, lovastatin, works best when taken with dinner. However, if you are taking the extended-release version of this statin, Altoprev, then you need to take that at bedtime.
Fluvastatin, another commonly prescribed statin, has a half-life of just three hours. This is why fluvastatin is also the most effective when taken at night.
Types of Statins
There are many types of statins available in both branded and generic form. Some of the commonly prescribed statins include: rosuvastatin (Crestor), lovastatin (Altoprev, Mevacor), simvastatin (Zocor), pitavastatin (Livalo), pravastatin (Pravachol), fluvastatin (Lescol XL) and atorvastatin (Lipitor).
Most of these statin medications need to be taken once every 24 hours, and sometimes, depending on the dosage and the particular statin, you might even need to take it twice in a day. Some statins are effective when taken with food, while some statins are most effective when they are taken at night.
Are There Statins That Can Be Taken In The Morning?
Not all statins work best when taken at night. There are some newer statins that work equally effective when taken in the morning. Studies have shown that the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, like rosuvastatin and atorvastatin, are the newer statins that are more effective and powerful than the older statins. The new statins also have half-lives of nearly 14 hours, which is why you can take them either in the morning or at night.
For example, the extended-release version of fluvastatin, Lescol XL, can be taken at any time of the day.
Common Side Effects of Statins
While statins are highly effective at controlling your cholesterol levels, they are not without their share of risks. Some of the common side effects of statins include: nausea, headaches, muscle and joint pain.
Some of the serious risks associated with statins also include damage to your muscles, liver and kidneys. Additionally, if you have type 2 diabetes, then statins are likely to increase your levels of blood glucose.
Switching to another statin if you are experiencing side effects can help sometimes. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any side effects from your statin.
Important Facts You Need To Know About Statins
There are certain facts about statins that you should be aware of if you are taking these medications. The most important thing is that not all statins are the same. This is why you need to first consult your doctor and find out everything you can about statins, and secondly, you must read the materials that come along with the medication. Follow the directions of your prescription carefully so that you are able to derive maximum benefit from the statins medication.
Your doctor should be aware of all your personal conditions and medical issues, such as allergies before they can prescribe you the best statin for your individual case. Do make sure that you inquire your doctor whether the statin has to be taken at a specific time of day or if it has to be taken with food.
If your doctor says that you can take the statin at any time, then also you should choose to maintain the same time each day. This is because statins work best when they are taken at the same time every day. Make it a part of your routine so that you don’t forget to take it.
Also keep in mind that when you are taking statins, you cannot drink grapefruit juice or eat grapefruit. Grapefruit interacts with a statin and causes the medication to stay inside your body for a much longer period of time. This can cause a build-up of statin inside the body, increasing the risk of muscle breakdown, kidney damage or kidney failure and liver damage.
Statins can also interact with other medications, which is why it is so important to inform your doctor about all the other medications you are taking. This also includes over-the-counter medications, supplements, prescription drugs, and any herbal medications as well.
Statins are the most effective medication for lowering increased cholesterol levels. Most statins work best when taken in the late evening or at night just before going to bed. The timing of taking the drug is important because your body manufactures more cholesterol during the night. Statins take around four to six weeks to start showing results and after six to eight weeks, your doctor will probably again check your LDL cholesterol levels to see if your medication is working or not. Keep following the instructions of the statins carefully to achieve the best results from these cholesterol-lowering drugs.