In this session, we will be discussing the consumer medication information for atorvastatin, trade name LipitorTM.
What it’s for & How to take
Atorvastatin is used to decrease the production of cholesterol in your body. It does this by blocking an enzyme in the liver that is needed for cholesterol production. Atorvastatin belongs to a class of medications known as the statins.
You may have extra cholesterol over time from either overproduction or an increased intake. Extra cholesterol leads to a buildup of cholesterol inside your blood vessels. The buildup of cholesterol on a blood vessel wall hardens and is known as plaque. The inside of your vessels become narrow, and blood flow may be decreased.
As your blood vessel narrows, you will have a decreased supply of blood to the rest of your body. This narrowing of your blood vessels is called atherosclerosis. Next, if the plaque ruptures, it can form a clot which may lead to either a stroke or a heart attack.
Atorvastatin is usually taken once daily, with or without food. Take your medication at the same time each day. If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of your next dose, skip it and continue with your normal dose time. Do not take a double dose to make up the missed dose.
Your doctor will have you do some blood tests before you begin therapy and at regular intervals after you have started your atorvastatin. Do not miss your lab appointments. The blood work is done to make sure the medication is helping to lower the cholesterol and to see if your body is tolerating the medication.
Warnings & Cautions
- Atorvastatin may cause a condition associated with increasing muscle pain. This condition begins with muscle weakness, unusual tiredness and possibly a fever. You may also experience yellow eyes, dark urine, nausea or abdominal pain. This condition may cause muscle and liver damage if not acted upon. If you experience these side effects, contact your doctor immediately.
- Do not take this medication if you are pregnant. If you are currently taking this medication and think you might be pregnant, contact your doctor right away. Atorvastatin may cause serious harm to an unborn baby. Talk with your doctor about the risk and the best way for you to prevent pregnancy. Breastfeeding is not recommended while taking this medication.
- Avoid eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice while taking atorvastatin. Grapefruit may increase the level of this medication in your body and cause dangerous side effects.
- While taking atorvastatin, limit your alcohol consumption. Excessive alcohol intake may cause the atorvastatin levels to increase and may cause dangerous side effects. The elderly may be more sensitive to the side effects of this medication, especially muscle pain and weakness.
Interactions & Side Effects
- Tell your pharmacist or doctor all your medication allergies so they may determine if atorvastatin is safe for you to take.
- Avoid dangerous drug interactions. Tell your pharmacist or doctor all the other medication you are taking, including over the counter supplements, even if you don’t take them very often.
- Ask your doctor if this medication is safe to take with your current health conditions. Tell your doctor if you have a history of liver disease, kidney disease, muscle pain or weakness, thyroid disorder or a history of alcohol or substance abuse.
- While taking atorvastatin, you may feel some mild muscle pain, diarrhea or some nausea. If these or any other unwanted side effects persist, contact your doctor or pharmacist to talk about it with them.
- Call your doctor right away if you have any significant muscle pain, unusual tiredness, weakness, fever, yellowing of your eyes, dark urine, nausea or abdominal pain.
- Call emergency 911 if you have any symptoms of a heart attack such as chest and left arm pain, shortness of breath and sweating or if you have symptoms of a stroke such as weakness on one side of your body, slurred speech, sudden vision changes, and confusion.
If you have any questions about what you have heard, contact your pharmacist or doctor. This session does not include all the potential interactions or side effects that this medication may cause. Ask your pharmacist how your medication should be stored and how you should dispose of it when you are done taking it. Do not share your medication with anyone, ever. Remember, this is not meant to replace your counseling session with your pharmacist. In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.