• Lowers the bodies production of bad cholesterol
  • Lowers the risk of heart problems such as heart disease, heart attacks as well as strokes
  • Lipid-lowering medication that belongs to the statins class of drugs

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High Cholesterol key facts UK

  • Cholesterol levels increase with age
  • 39.65% of people in the UK have are considered to have borderline or high cholesterol levels
  • Women going through the menopause are at risk of developing high cholesterol
  • High cholesterol is one of the main risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease

Source -

What is Simvastatin?

Simvastatin is a lipid-lowering medication that belongs to the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors group of medicines, also known as statins. It is a commonly prescribed medication to prevent cardiovascular disease in those with high cholesterol.

Simvastatin has been used to treat high cholesterol since 1992, it is one of the most prescribed medicines in the world and is currently featured on the World Health Organisation's list of Essential Medicines.

It is taken by mouth and, when combined with exercise, weight loss and a healthy diet, can work to lower elevated lipid levels.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in your blood; it plays a very important part in the overall function of the human body. Cholesterol is present in every cell in the body, it also helps to produce vitamin D and certain steroid hormones which are essential for keeping your muscles and bones strong and health.

Cholesterol also helps the liver produce a natural substance called bile, which helps to digest fats from foods that we eat.

Cholesterol is made up by a number of different Lipoproteins, however the two that are often talked about the most include LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) and HDL (High Density Lipoprotein).

LDL is known as bad cholesterol, as too much of it can build up in the arteries which can lead to several related health conditions. When you have high cholesterol, this is because LDL cholesterol levels are higher than normal. LDL can cause hardening and narrowing of the blood vessels leading to cardiovascular disease.

HDL is known as good cholesterol due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It can help to prevent disease and helps the body remove the bad cholesterol by taking it to the liver where it is excreted from the body.

What is Simvastatin used to treat?

Simvastatin is a lipid-lowering medication that belongs to the statins class of drugs. It is a commonly prescribed medication to lower the non-HDL cholesterol levels in the body, particularly the Lower Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. Like other statins, Simvastatin also helps to increase the good cholesterol levels (HDL). 

Simvastatin reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, angina, heart attacks and strokes associated with high cholesterol. 

It is taken by mouth and, when combined with exercise, weight loss and a healthy diet, can work to lower elevated lipid levels.

Simvastatin and other statin drugs are the first line treatment option in those with high cholesterol, however they should always be used in conjunction with a healthy diet and lifestyle changes that include exercising.

How does Simvastatin treat high cholesterol?

Simvastatin works by lowering the bad cholesterol levels in our body such as Lower Density Lipoprotein (LDL) as well as other non-HDL cholesterol levels. Simvastatin also helps to increase the levels of good cholesterol, which help to prevent several LDL related diseases as well as removing LDL from the body.

Simvastatin increases the number of LDL receptors within the body, the LDL receptors are vital to the body when it comes to managing cholesterol body. 

The LDL receptors help to absorb the bad cholesterol within the blood, where it is transferred to the liver and removed from the body.

Statins mainly work in the liver by slowing down the production of LDL cholesterol.

Simvastatin Dose

The dosage of Simvastatin you are prescribed is heavily dependent on your condition, diagnosis, and the severity of your cholesterol levels. The available doses of Simvastatin in the UK are listed below:

  • Simvastatin 10mg

  • Simvastatin 20mg

  • Simvastatin 40mg

  • Simvastatin 80mg

How to take Simvastatin

Studies have shown that Simvastatin has a greater reduction in LDL cholesterol when it is taken at night. Statins with a half-life of less than 6 hours should be taken at night.

It is recommended taking this medicine at the same time every night.

Do not open or chew the tablets, they must be swallowed whole. They are also most effective when following other healthy lifestyle choices, such as eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, managing your stress, and stopping smoking.

Do not drink grapefruit juice while taking Simvastatin.

Who can take Simvastatin?

Simvastatin is an effective medication for lowering cholesterol levels, but it may not be suitable for everyone to use.

This medicine is suitable for adults and children over the age of 10 years old to take.

You should tell your doctor before taking Simvastatin tablets if:

  • You have liver or kidney problems
  • You have had an allergic to this or any other medicine in the past
  • You have or have had a muscle disorder like fibromyalgia
  • You have severe lung disease
  • You drink large quantities of alcohol on a regular basis
  • You have an underactive thyroid

Simvastatin tablets can also interact with other medication. If you are taking any other medicine for high cholesterol or any other illness, you should make sure your doctor is aware. Please refer to the Warnings and Drug Interactions tab on this page for a list of other medicines you should be cautious of when using Simvastatin.

Simvastatin side effects

Statins for cholesterol are generally considered to be very safe to take. However, like all medications, Simvastatin comes with the risk of certain side effects, although not everyone will suffer from them. You should speak to your doctor if these side effects bother you or do not go away.

A rare but serious side effect of taking this medicine is unexplained muscle pain. You may be more likely to experience this reaction if you are taking a higher dose of Simvastatin, and it may appear weeks or even months into your course of treatment.

You should report any muscle pain or aches to your doctor straight away.

Please note, this list is not exhaustive. For a full list, please refer to the Side Effects tab on this page.

Simvastatin alternatives

There are 5 types of statins that are used to treat high cholesterol in the UK. 

All statins will have a very similar mechanism of action; however, indications and dose can vary depending on which statin you are prescribed.

You should always take the statin that you have been prescribed by your doctor, do not switch between statins.

Can you buy Simvastatin over the counter in the UK?

No, simvastatin is a prescription only medicine and cannot be bought over the counter. 

Can you buy Simvastatin online in the UK?

Yes, Simvastatin can be bought online in the UK from most online pharmacies including Medicine Direct. Before you buy Simvastatin, you will need to complete an online health questionnaire, this is to ensure that you are receiving the best possible treatment option for your condition. 

It is important to ensure that when you buy Simvastatin online, you do so from a UK fully regulated pharmacy. To learn more about our company, team, medical professionals, and the licenses we hold, visit our about us page.

Simvastatin Dosage

Our pharmacists and prescribers follow NICE prescribing guidelines when prescribing Simvastatin.

What if I forget to take it?

If you accidentally miss a dose of Simvastatin, just take your next dose at the scheduled time. You should never take two doses and you should never double up on doses to try and make up for a missed dose.

To ensure you don't forget to take your medication, it helps if you get into a routine of taking it at the same time every day. Some people find it beneficial to set an alarm to remind them to take it.

What happens if I take more than I am supposed to?

Accidentally taking an extra dose of this medicine is unlikely to do you any harm, although you should speak to your doctor if you become worried or if you take more than one extra dose.

Simvastatin FAQ's

How can I buy Simvastatin online in the UK?

If you have been prescribed this medicine by your doctor to treat cholesterol, you can order Simvastatin. UK pharmacies like Medicine Direct stock this medicine; we have it in 20mg, 40mg and 80mg. If you order with us before 2pm, we can offer you next day delivery. You should only ever order medicine online if it is from a General Pharmaceutical Council registered pharmacy, like Medicine Direct.

Can you purchase Simvastatin over the counter?

You can buy statins over the counter when you have a valid prescription from a doctor. Your doctor will prescribe you this medication if you have high cholesterol levels.

What happens if you eat or drink grapefruit while taking Simvastatin?

You must not consume grapefruit juice or any other grapefruit products while taking Simvastatin. This is because grapefruit increases the concentration of the medicine in your blood.

Can you drink alcohol while taking Simvastatin?

You are not advised to drink alcohol while taking your course of Simvastatin. Drinking alcohol in large quantities may increase your chances of suffering from side effects. It is recommended that you do not drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week.

What happens when you stop taking Simvastatin?

You may need to stop taking this medication if you experience side effects, but you should talk to your doctor before doing so, as these symptoms may be from another, unrelated issue. If you stop taking Simvastatin, you will stop receiving the benefits provided by this medication. You will not suffer from any withdrawal symptoms, but stopping your treatment may cause the levels of bad cholesterol in your body to rise again. This makes you more vulnerable to the risk of heart disease, a heart attack or a stroke. If you do want to stop taking this medicine, you should speak to your doctor about alternative ways you can lower your cholesterol.

Can I crush Simvastatin?

No, these tablets should be swallowed whole with a glass of water. Do not crush or chew them.

How is high cholesterol diagnosed?

High cholesterol is very easy to diagnose. Your doctor will conduct a blood test called a lipid panel, which will then be sent for analysis. Your doctor will ask you to not eat or drink anything for 12 hours before you have the test. After you have been diagnosed, your doctor will prescribe you the most appropriate course of medication to treat your individual condition. If your doctor prescribes you Simvastatin, you are able to purchase it online at Medicine Direct, with the option of next day delivery if you order before 2pm.

Is it a blood thinner?

Statin medications should not be used to replace blood thinners you have been prescribed. Cholesterol medicines may thin your blood, but only by very little.

What is the best time to take Simvastatin?

Research suggests that the best time to take Simvastatin is during the evening. You should take one tablet a day, as instructed by your doctor. Always read the patient information leaflet thoroughly before using any medication.

What is the drug Simvastatin used to treat?

Simvastatin is commonly used to treat high levels of cholesterol or triglycerides (fats) in your blood stream. It can also be used to treat hereditary conditions which cause high blood pressure or those who are suffering from coronary heart disease, or are at the risk of developing a coronary heart disease due to diabetes. It has also been linked to increases in the production of good cholesterol.

Are there any other drugs that are similar to Simvastatin?

Simvastatin is a medicine that is primarily used to treat individuals suffering with high cholesterol. There are many other statins that are used to treat high cholesterol. The most commonly prescribed statin is Atorvastatin. Atorvastatin is another medication that works in a very similar way to Simvastatin in the way that it is consumed and helps to promote the liver’s creation of good cholesterol, effectively lowering the bad cholesterol in our body. This medicine also helps to prevent the likes of heart disease, a stroke or heart attack.

Simvastatin Serious Side Effects

Certain adverse effects you may experience can be found on the main page. All medicines come with the risk of certain side effects, although not everyone who takes the medicine will get them.

Serious side effects are very rare when using Simvastatin, affecting less than 1 in every 1,000 people who take it.

Nonetheless, you should stop taking the medicine and call a doctor immediately if you experience any of the following serious side effects while using Simvastatin:

  • You lose weight, have a cough or feel short of breath – these can be symptoms of lung disease
  • Severe stomach pains – this could be a sign of pancreas problems
  • Muscle pain, cramps, weakness or tenderness – this could be a sign of kidney damage or muscle breakdown
  • You have a skin rash with pink blotches, especially on the palms of your hands or soles of your feet
  • You have yellowing skin or the whites of your eyes turn yellow, or you have pale stools or dark urine – these could be symptoms of liver problems

In some cases, you may experience a severe allergic reaction to taking Simvastatin. You should call 999 or go to A&E straight away if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • You are finding it difficult to breathe or speak
  • You are wheezing
  • You have a skin rash that is red, itchy, swollen, blistered or peeling
  • You have swelling of the lips, tongue, mouth, face or throat
  • You have tightness in the chest or throat

Please note that this list may not be exhaustive; for the full list of possible side effects, you should refer to the patient information leaflet.

Simvastatin Warnings and drug interactions

You should always make sure that your doctor is aware of any medication you are already using. This includes both prescription and non-prescription medicine, herbal remedies, vitamins and supplements.

Certain medicines do not mix well with Simvastatin. You should consult your doctor before taking Simvastatin if you are already taking any of these medications:

  • Nefazodone to treat depression
  • Certain HIV medications
  • Certain antifungals and antibiotics
  • Warfarin to treat blood clots
  • Certain medicines to treat hepatitis C
  • Danazol to treat endometriosis
  • Amiodarone to stabilise your heart
  • Verapamil, diltiazem or amlodipine to treat heart problems and high blood pressure
  • Ciclosporin to treat rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis

If you need to take any of the above medicines while also using Simvastatin, your doctor may do one of several things:

  • Prescribe a different statin medicine for cholesterol such as Atorvastatin, Pravastatin, Fluvastatin.
  • Prescribe a lower dose of Simvastatin
  • Suggest you stop using Simvastatin temporarily

It should be noted that any herbal remedies which contain St. John's Wort (used to treat depression) will reduce the amount of Simvastatin in your blood, hindering the medication's effectiveness.

For more information on medicines that interact with Simvastatin.

If you are currently using any medicines that contain St. John's Wort, or are thinking of doing so, you should make sure your doctor knows, as this can stop Simvastatin from working properly.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Simvastatin is not recommended for women who are pregnant. If you are currently pregnant, are trying to get pregnant, or think you may be pregnant, you should make sure you tell your doctor. If you become pregnant while taking Simvastatin, you should stop taking the medicine and tell your doctor as soon as possible.

Similarly, this medication may not be suitable for women who are breastfeeding. There is not enough research out there to prove either way as to whether this medicine is harmful to babies, but small amounts of this medicine can make its way into your breast milk. You should speak to your doctor if you are breastfeeding, before you start to use this medication.

Simvastatin Ingredients

The active ingredient contained in this medication is Simvastatin, 10mg, 20mg or 40mg, depending on the dose you have been prescribed for your cholesterol.

Other ingredients also contained in the medicine are: Butylated hydroxyanisole (E320), ascorbic acid (E300), citric acid monohydrate (E330), microcrystalline cellulose (E460a), pregelatinized maize starch, lactose monohydrate, magnesium stearate (E470B)

Delivery Company Delivery Service Price Details
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Please note that next day delivery to Northern Ireland, Scottish Highlands & Islands and British Isles cannot be guaranteed. Please contact our team for more information.

Written byHussain Abdeh MPharm: 2211840

Published on: 12/10/2020

Updated on: 17/05/2021

This content has been written by our Superintendent Pharmacist Hussain Abdeh and has been medically reviewed by our Pharmacist Sonia Khan

Hussain Abdeh Superintendent Pharmacist at Medicine Direct

Hussain Abdeh
MPharm: 2211840

Pharmacist Independent Prescriber

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