What they do

These drugs work by improving a patient’s cholesterol level and may also improve the function of the coronary arteries. They are frequently used in people with heart failure. The most common cause of heart failure is coronary artery disease, caused by a narrowing of the coronary arteries due to a build-up of cholesterol (plaque). These drugs are very effective in preventing the development of plaques, which may eventually lead to a shortage of oxygen in your heart (ischaemia) or a heart attack.

Side effects

Muscle pain (myalgia) is a relatively common but significant side effect of statins. You should notify your doctor if you develop unexplained muscle pain, tenderness or weakness. Your doctor will then be able to do a blood test, which will indicate if your symptoms are due to statin therapy. This side effect is reversible.

Top tips

Your doctor will probably want to monitor your cholesterol levels while you are taking a statin in order to decide which dose is the most appropriate. In addition, your doctor can alter your dose or switch the statin you are receiving if you experience muscle pain related to your statin therapy.

Also known as:

  • Atorvastatin
  • Fluvastatin
    (Lescol®, Lescol XL®)
  • Pravastatin
  • Rosuvastatin
  • Simvastatin
    (Zocor®, Simvador®)
  • Combination products

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ESC Guidelines for Heart Failure

What patients need to know

This guide for patients from the European Society of Cardiology aims to provide an overview of the latest evidence-based recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of heart failure.

In particular, it should help patients to understand the:

  • main types of heart failure
  • medicines used to treat heart failure
  • devices that may be appropriate
  • importance of rehabilitation
  • management by a multidisciplinary team
  • importance of self-care in managing your own condition

Learn more


A series of 9 simple, captivating animations explaining heart failure and its treatment.

These narrated animations explain how a healthy heart works, what happens to it in heart failure and how various treatments work to improve your health.


In this section you can watch, listen or read interviews with other people with heart failure and their caregivers.


and share your own views and experiences with other patients, families and caregivers. is a European Society of Cardiology website

The website was developed under the direction of the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). The ESC is a world leader in the discovery and dissemination of best practices in cardiovascular medicine. Our members and decision-makers are healthcare professionals who volunteer their time and expertise to represent professionals in the field of cardiology in Europe and beyond.

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