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This Morning: Dr Chris reveals grapefruit can affect statins

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While a lot of attention is paid to how different medications interact with each other, less attention is put to how medications interact with easy to buy and consume liquids. This includes fruit juice.  Occasionally, when fruit juice combines with medication, the two can clash and cause uncomfortable or dangerous side effects. One of the most common occasions where this can occur is in the treatment of cholesterol.

Cholesterol is most effectively treated either through lifestyle changes or through said changes and the addition of statins, a type of medicine designed to lower the levels of cholesterol produced in the liver.

Pomegranate juice is one such example of a juice turned to in the quest for improved cholesterol levels as some studies suggest it can have this impact.

These studies suggest pomegranate juice can slow the build-up of harmful cholesterol in the arteries due to the presence to antioxidants within the juice.

However, while pomegranate juice has some benefits; when combined with other cholesterol medications it can have negative impacts.

The Mayo Clinic says: “Pomegranate juice may cause dangerous side effects when it interacts with certain prescription medications, such as the blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, including captopril (Capoten), ethambutol uric acid enalapril (Vasotec), lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril) and ramipril (Altace).”

Subsequently, it is recommended that patients with high cholesterol should talk to their GP or doctor before they start taking ACE inhibitors or statins in order to identify any dietary hurdles that may hinder the medicine’s effectiveness.

The reason for this is pomegranate juice isn’t the only fruit with the potential to cause side effects when mixed with medicine.

While pomegranate juice can interfere with ACE inhibitors, grapefruit juice has been known to interfere with statins.

The British Heart Foundation says: “If you’re taking simvastatin or atorvastatin, avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice as they can increase your risk of side effects.

“If you take another type of statin, limit your intake of grapefruit juice to very small quantities or you may want to avoid it all together.”

As a result, it is recommended to avoid grapefruit juice while taking statins.

Statins can cause several side effects such as:
• Headache
• Dizziness
• Feeling sick
• Feeling unusually tired or physically weak
• Constipation
• Diarrhoea
• Indigestion
• Farting
• Muscle pain
• Sleep problems.

The full list of side effects will be present on the leaflet accompanying each packet of medication.

Statins form one part of the UK’s arsenal of medicinal weaponry against heart disease, one of the nation’s biggest killers.

Every three minutes someone dies from a form of cardiovascular disease in the UK while over seven and a half million Britons live with a form of the condition.

These numbers are set to worsen as the full effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and poor lifestyle habits adopted begin to take effect.

With the NHS still recoiling from the blow Covid has dealt, it is set to receive a secondary shockwave of cardiovascular disease patients as a result of the pandemic.

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