Lipitor

Generic Name: Atorvastatin

  • What is this medication and its most common uses?

    Lipitor belongs to a class of medicines called "statins," which are used to lower your cholesterol (fats in your blood) when a low-fat diet is not enough. Lipitor lowers your total cholesterol, "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides (a type of blood fat), and increases "good" high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

  • What should I know when beginning and continuing on this medication?

    How does this medication work?

    Statins block a protein in the liver that makes cholesterol. When less cholesterol is made, the liver uses more of it from the blood. This results in lower levels of cholesterol. By lowering "bad" cholesterol, lowering triglycerides and by increasing the amount of "good" cholesterol in your blood, Lipitor can slow the build-up of fatty deposits in the walls of the arteries in your heart, brain, or other parts of the body.

    What are the beneficial effects of this medication and when should I begin to have results?

    What: Along with a low-fat diet, Lipitor is proven to lower LDL cholesterol by 39%-60%, depending on the dose prescribed by your healthcare provider. By reducing LDL and triglyceride levels and by increasing HDL, Lipitor may lower your risk of a heart attack, stroke, chest pain, and the need for procedures to restore the blood flow back to the heart or to another part of the body.

    When: Lipitor may start working within 2 weeks. Though you may not feel an improvement or change in the way you feel, it is very important to keep taking your medicine as prescribed to keep your condition under control.

    How do I know it is working?

    Your healthcare provider may do blood tests to check your cholesterol levels during your treatment with Lipitor. Appropriate diet and exercise also contribute to your overall heart health and will also affect the results of your blood tests.

    Taking Lipitor is not a substitute for following a healthy low-fat and low-cholesterol diet and exercising to lower your cholesterol.

  • What are the possible side effects of this medication?

    The following is not a full list of side effects. Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Only your healthcare provider can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking this medication.

    More common side effects may include: common cold, joint pain, diarrhea, pain in arms and legs, urinary tract infection.

    Less common side effects may include:

    Muscle problems with symptoms such as unexplained weakness, tenderness, or pain, especially if you also have a fever or feel more tired than usual.

    Liver problems with symptoms such as feeling tired or weak, loss of appetite, upper belly pain, dark-colored urine, or yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.

  • Who should not take this medication?

    Do not take Lipitor if you are allergic to it or any of its ingredients.

    Do not take Lipitor if you have liver disease.

    Do not take Lipitor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

  • What should I tell my healthcare provider before I take the first dose of this medication?

    Tell your healthcare provider about all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medications you are taking before beginning treatment with Lipitor. Also, talk to your healthcare provider about your complete medical history, especially if you have muscle aches or weakness; diabetes; drink excessive amounts of alcohol; have liver, kidney, thyroid, or heart problems; or if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

  • What is the usual dosage?

    The information below is based on the dosage guidelines your healthcare provider uses. Depending on your condition and medical history, your healthcare provider may prescribe a different regimen. Do not change the dosage or stop taking your medication without your healthcare provider's approval.

    Adults: The recommended starting dose is 10 or 20 milligrams (mg) once a day. Your healthcare provider may check your blood cholesterol levels during treatment with Lipitor and may change your dose based on the results.

    Adolescents 10-17 years: The recommended starting dose is 10 mg once a day. Your healthcare provider may check your child's blood cholesterol levels during treatment with Lipitor and may change the dose based on the results.

    If you have kidney impairment or are taking other medications, your healthcare provider may adjust your dose appropriately.

  • How should I take this medication?

    Take Lipitor exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Do not change your dose or stop taking Lipitor without first talking to your healthcare provider.

    Take Lipitor with or without food, at about the same time every day.

    Swallow Lipitor tablets whole. Do not break them.

    Your healthcare provider will likely start you on a low-fat diet before prescribing Lipitor. Stay on this diet while you are taking Lipitor.

  • What should I avoid while taking this medication?

    Do not become pregnant or breastfeed while you are taking Lipitor.

    Do not drink large amounts of grapefruit juice (>1 liter per day) while you are taking Lipitor.

  • What are the possible food and drug interactions associated with this medication?

    If Lipitor is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your healthcare provider before combining Lipitor with the following: alcohol, anti-HIV medications (such as darunavir, fosamprenavir, lopinavir, nelfinavir, ritonavir, saquinavir, or tipranavir), birth control pills, boceprevir, cholesterol-lowering medicines known as fibrates (such as fenofibrate or gemfibrozil), cimetidine, clarithromycin, colchicine, cyclosporine, digoxin, efavirenz, grapefruit juice, itraconazole, ketoconazole, niacin, rifampin, spironolactone, or telaprevir.

  • May I receive this medication if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

    Do not take Lipitor during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Tell your healthcare provider immediately if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

  • What should I do if I miss a dose of this medication?

    If you miss a dose of Lipitor, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the one you missed and return to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take two doses at once.

  • How should I store this medication?

    Store at room temperature.

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