Statins side effects: People may develop low blood platelet count – how to spot

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Without taking preventative measures, cardiovascular disease can kill. Statins are one form of medical intervention to extend a person’s longevity. Are you likely to gain a prescription?As with all medication, side effects are to be expected – even if they only affect a handful of people. Side effects can vary according to the different strains of statins, explained the NHS, but some people may develop thrombocytopenia.

Thrombocytopenia is the term used to describe “low blood platelet count” – what does this mean?

Drug-induced thrombocytopenia is when there isn’t enough platelet cells in the body to help the blood clot, said MedlinePlus.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NIH) said purpuria and petechiae are telling symptoms of a low platelet blood count.

Purpura are purple, brown, and red bruises that easily form on the skin’s surface.

Meanwhile, petechiae are small red or purple dots found on the surface of the skin.

Other tellings signs include prolonged bleeding from minor cuts, frequent nosebleeds, or abnormal vaginal bleeding.

Any heavy bleeding in the intestines or brain is serious and can be fatal, which may include blood in the urine or stools.

The blood in stools can appear as bright red, or as a dark, tarry colour.

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Any of these concerning symptoms should be discussed with your healthcare professional as soon as possible.

Speaking with your GP may result in trying a different strain of statins, or adjusting the dosage.

The NHS pointed out other side effects of statins, which may include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Physical weakness
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Indigestion
  • Farting
  • Muscle pain
  • Sleep problems

Uncommon side effects from taking statins could include vomiting, memory troubles, hair loss, or pins and needles.

Some people may experience sexual problems, such as loss of libido or erectile dysfunction.

Others may experience an itchy red rash, or acne, stomach pain, or flu-like symptoms.

Although this isn’t an exhaustive list of possible side effects from taking statins, “many people who take [them] experience no or very few side effects”, assured the NHS.

A review of scientific studies found that around one in every 50 people who take statins, for five years or more, go on to avoid a heart attack or stroke.

Before a person is recommended statins, doctors may suggest lifestyle adjustments to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

This can include things such as exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and limiting the amount of alcohol you drink.

Other healthcare measures likely include eating a healthy, balanced diet full of fruit and vegetables.

These measures will also still be advisable if you are prescribed statins.

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