Lipitor (Atorvastatin) Medication Information
Lipitor contains the active ingredient (atorvastatin), a “statin” medication used to treat high cholesterol. Lipitor is a prescription drug for adults and children (over ten years old) whose cholesterol does not come down enough with exercise and eating a healthy diet.
Lipitor can affect several types of cholesterol that circulate in the blood. Lipitor can:
- Lower LDL (“bad” cholesterol)
- Lower triglycerides
- Raise HDL (“good” cholesterol)
Lipitor can reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, chest pain, and certain heart surgeries in people who have heart disease or risk of heart disease.
This medication can also lower the chances of heart attack or stroke in people with diabetes and other risk factors such as high blood pressure or smoking.
Lipitor (atorvastatin) is an oral tablet that comes in four strengths: 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg, and 80 mg.
Lipitor is usually prescribed once daily and can be taken with or without food.
Your doctor will decide the dosage that is best for you.
Lipitor may not be safe for people with the following medical history or conditions:
- Liver disease
- Pregnant or plan to become pregnant
- Muscle problems
- Drink more than two alcoholic beverages daily
- Thyroid problems
- Kidney problems
- History of an allergic reaction to Lipitor (atorvastatin)
The most common side effects of Lipitor are mild, but severe side effects are also possible.
Common side effects may include:
- Muscle or joint pain
- Changes in laboratory blood tests including increased liver enzyme levels
Serious side effects can rarely occur, such as:
- Rhabdomyolysis. Let your doctor know if you have any new muscle pain or weakness. Very rarely, this could be a sign of a more severe side effect, rhabdomyolysis, which can lead to kidney damage.
- Liver problems. Your doctor will check your liver’s health with a blood test before you start Lipitor. You’ll repeat this test every 6 to 12 months to make sure your liver stays healthy.
Your doctor will only prescribe Lipitor if the benefits for your health outweigh the risks of serious side effects. Talk to your doctor if you have side effects that bother you or won’t go away.
Some potentially harmful interactions can happen with Lipitor. Some examples include:
- Grapefruit and grapefruit juice
- Some HIV medications
Talk with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any other medications or herbal supplements with Lipitor.
Store Lipitor at room temperature between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C).
How long does Lipitor take to start working?
Lipitor takes about two weeks to start working. About a month after you start Lipitor, your doctor will order a blood test to check your cholesterol levels. Depending on your results, your doctor may raise your dose to find the best dosage for you.
Is there a best time of day to take Lipitor?
No. Some stations work better in the evening, such as simvastatin. The newer statins, Lipitor and Crestor, are just as effective if they are taken in the morning or evening. The best time of day for Lipitor is the time that you’ll be able to take it consistently.
I’m worried about muscle side effects with statins. Why should I take Lipitor?
You should take Lipitor to reduce your chance of having a heart attack or stroke. Over time, high levels of LDL (“bad” cholesterol) can cause a thick, waxy build-up in your blood vessels. This causes the blood vessels to narrow, increasing your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Lipitor can help lower cholesterol and reduce these risks.
You have a higher chance of muscle problems if you take certain medications that interact with Lipitor. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist for more information.