• 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 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

What is Simvastatin used for?

Simvastatin is used to treat hig cholesterol and prevent further complications such as strokes, heart disease and heart attacks.

What is Simvastatin also known as?

Simvastain is also known as its brand name Zocor and Simvador.

How long does it take for Simvastatin to lower cholesterol?

Simvastatin should significantly lower cholesterol levels within 4 weeks of taking it.

How long will I need to take Simvastatin for?

Simvastatin will typically be prescribed to you for the rest of your life. It will successfully regulate your cholesterol levels for a long time.

Is Simvastatin safe to take for a long time?

Yes, Simvastatin should only be taken for a long time as it is more effective at regulating cholesterol levels when taken for many years. Simvastatin does not cause any long lasting side effects.

Once it has lowered my cholesterol, can I stop taking it?

If you stop taking simvastatin once it has lowered your cholesterol, it is likely that your cholesterol levels will return to its previous high. It is important to continue taking Simvastatin as prescribed, do not stop taking this medicine unless instructed to do so by your doctor.

How does Simvastatin compare with other statins?

Statins are the most commonly prescribed high cholesterol treatment in the UK. They all work in different ways to  lower cholesterol. When it comes to success rates, all statins are fairly similar, however certain statins may be more effective on individuals than other. 

Can I take different statins?

Switching between statins has been shown to increase the bad cholesterol in our bodies. Although as a whole statins are used to lower cholesterol, they all work in different ways, so mixing or switching between different statins will not effectively regulate your cholesterol.

When is the best time to take Simvastatin?

Our bodies produce more cholesterol at night, taking Simvastatin before bed time has been shown to be more effective at regulating cholesterol levels. Ensure you take simvastatin at the same time every day for consistency.

Can I drink alcohol whilst taking Simvastatin?

Yes, it is safe to drink alcohol whilst taking Simvastatin as there are no harmful interactions between the two. However please bear in mind that Alcohol can directly increase cholesterol levels.

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 main active ingredient within this medicine is: Simvastatin

For a full list of the inactive ingredients, please read the Summary of Product Characteristics

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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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