Generic name: atorvastatin (a TOR va sta tin)
Brand name: Lipitor
Drug class: Statins
Lipitor (atorvastatin) belongs to a group of drugs called HMG CoA reductase inhibitors, or "statins."
Lipitor is used together with diet to lower blood levels of "bad" cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL), to increase levels of "good" cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL), and to lower triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood).
Lipitor is used to treat high cholesterol, and to lower the risk of stroke, heart attack, or other heart complications in people with type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, or other risk factors such as genetically high cholesterol.
Lipitor is for use in adults and children who are at least 10 years old.
You should not take Lipitor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, if you have liver disease, or if you have had an allergic reaction to Lipitor in the past.
Stop taking Lipitor and tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant.
Serious drug interactions can occur when certain medicines are used together with Lipitor. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all medicines you use now, and any medicine you start or stop using.
Atorvastatin can cause a condition that results in the breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue, which can lead to kidney failure. Call your doctor right away if you have unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness especially if you also have fever, unusual tiredness, or dark colored urine.
Avoid eating foods that are high in fat or cholesterol. Lipitor will not be as effective in lowering your cholesterol if you do not follow a cholesterol-lowering diet plan. Lipitor starts to work in about 2 weeks. Lipitor is only part of a complete program of treatment that also includes diet, exercise, and weight control. Follow your diet, medication, and exercise routines very closely.
Before taking this medicine
You should not use Lipitor if you are allergic to atorvastatin, or if you have:
- liver disease; or
- if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Atorvastatin can harm an unborn baby or cause birth defects. Do not use if you are pregnant. Stop taking Lipitor and tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are taking this medicine.
Atorvastatin may pass into breast milk and could harm a nursing baby. Do not breastfeed while you are taking Lipitor.
To make sure this medicine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:
- liver problems;
- muscle pain or weakness;
- kidney disease;
- a thyroid disorder; or
- if you drink more than 2 alcoholic beverages daily.
Lipitor can cause the breakdown of muscle tissue, which can lead to kidney failure. This happens more often in women, in older adults, or people who have kidney disease or poorly controlled hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).
Atorvastatin is not approved for use by anyone younger than 10 years old.
How should I take Lipitor?
Take Lipitor exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results. Do not use this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
Lipitor is usually taken once a day, with or without food. Take the medicine at the same time each day.
Do not break an Lipitor tablet before taking it, unless your doctor has told you to.
You may need to stop using this medicine for a short time if you have:
- uncontrolled seizures;
- an electrolyte imbalance (such as high or low potassium levels in your blood);
- severely low blood pressure;
- a severe infection or illness; or
- surgery or a medical emergency.
It may take up to 2 weeks before your cholesterol levels improve, and you may need frequent blood test. Even if you have no symptoms, tests can help your doctor determine if Lipitor is effective.
Lipitor is only part of a complete treatment program that may also include diet, exercise, and weight control. Follow your doctor's instructions very closely.
Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if your next dose is less than 12 hours away. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
What to avoid
Avoid eating foods that are high in fat or cholesterol. Lipitor will not be as effective in lowering your cholesterol if you do not follow a cholesterol-lowering diet plan.
Avoid drinking alcohol. It can raise triglyceride levels and may increase your risk of liver damage.
Grapefruit and grapefruit juice may interact with atorvastatin and lead to unwanted side effects. Avoid drinking more than 1 liter of grapefruit juice per day while taking this medicine.
Lipitor side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to Lipitor: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
In rare cases, Lipitor can cause a condition that results in the breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue, leading to kidney failure. Call your doctor right away if you have unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness especially if you also have fever, unusual tiredness, and dark colored urine.
Also call your doctor at once if you have:
- muscle weakness in your hips, shoulders, neck, and back;
- trouble lifting your arms, trouble climbing or standing;
- upper stomach pain, weakness, tired feeling, loss of appetite, dark urine, yellowing of the skin or eyes (signs of liver problems); or
- little or no urinating, swelling in your feet or ankles, feeling tired or short of breath (signs of kidney problems).
Common Lipitor side effects may include:
- joint pain;
- stuffy nose, sore throat;
- diarrhea; or
- pain in your arms or legs.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What other drugs will affect Lipitor?
Certain other drugs can increase your risk of serious muscle problems, and it is very important that your doctor knows if you are using any of them. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially:
- other cholesterol-lowering medication;
- antibiotic or antifungal medicine;
- birth control pills;
- medicine to prevent organ transplant rejection;
- heart medication; or
- medicine to treat hepatitis C or HIV.
This list is not complete. Many other drugs may interact with atorvastatin, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.