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Statins: New NHS trial tests cholesterol-lowering drugs on Covid patients


NHS medics aim to test atorvastatin on 1,300 long Covid patients over the next 36 months in the hope that it will save lives. This comes after reports that one in 10 Covid patients die within six months of being discharged from the wards. The Office for National Statistics added that three in 10 Covid patients are re-admitted to hospital following breathing difficulties, liver or kidney issues. To stop this trend from continuing, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge University and the University of Liverpool are intervening.

Their research teams will led the HEAL-Covid trial, planned to go ahead next week.

While half of the volunteers will be offered atorvastatin, 1,300 more participants may take apixaban instead – a blood-thinning drug that prevents blood clots.

Imperial College Healthcare, in London, is already offering apixaban to Covid patients who have been discharged from hospital.

The NHS Trust explained: “Our experience with the coronavirus infection has shown that it increases the risk of having a blood clot in the veins.

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For example, if blood supply to the brain is restricted, a stroke will occur.

If the blood supply to the heart muscle is restricted, then a heart attack will occur.

It’s for this reason statins are widely prescribed to help prevent heart attacks and strokes – especially if you’ve already had one.

“Most statins are taken at night, as this is when most of your cholesterol is produced,” said the BHF.

Less common side effects include:

  • Being sick
  • Memory problems
  • Hair loss
  • Pins and needles
  • Inflammation of the liver (hepatitis), which can cause flu-like symptoms
  • Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), which can cause stomach pain
  • Skin problems, such as acne or an itchy red rash
  • Sexual problems, such as loss of libido (reduced sex drive) or erectile dysfunction

The NHS added: “Like all medicines, statins can cause side effects. But most people tolerate them well and do not have any problems.”

Atorvastatin is one of five statins widely prescribed in the UK. The others are:

  • Fluvastatin
  • Pravastatin
  • Rosuvastatin
  • Simvastatin

The statins differ in their potency – some are stronger than others.


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