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Lipitor is used with diet changes (restriction of cholesterol and fat intake) to reduce the amount of cholesterol and certain fatty substances in your blood. Accumulation of cholesterol and fats along the walls of your arteries (a process known as atherosclerosis) decreases blood flow and, therefore, the oxygen supply to your heart, brain, and other parts of your body. Lowering your blood level of cholesterol and fats may help to prevent heart disease, angina (Chest pain), strokes, and heart attacks.
Lipitor comes as a tablet to take it orally. It is usually taken once a day with or without food. To help you remember to take Lipitor, take it around the same time every day. Your doctor may start you on a low dose of Lipitor and gradually increase your dose. Continue to take Lipitor even if you feel well. Do not stop taking Lipitor without talking to your doctor. Eat a low-cholesterol, low-fat diet
Drug Class and Mechanism
Atorvastatin is an oral drug that lowers the level of cholesterol in the blood. It belongs to a class of drugs referred to as statins which includes lovastatin (Mevacor), simvastatin, (Zocor), fluvastatin (Lescol), and pravastatin (Pravachol). All statins, including atorvastatin, prevent the production of cholesterol by the liver by blocking the enzyme that makes cholesterol, HMGCoA reductase. They lower total blood cholesterol as well as LDL cholesterol levels. (LDL cholesterol is believed to be the "bad" cholesterol that is primarily responsible for the development of coronary artery disease.) Lowering LDL cholesterol levels retards progression and may even reverse coronary artery disease. Unlike the other drugs in this class, atorvastatin also can reduce the concentration of triglycerides in the blood. High blood concentrations of triglycerides also have been associated with coronary artery disease. Atorvastatin was approved by the FDA in December of 1996.
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for the next regularly scheduled dose, skip the missed dose and take the next one as directed. Do not take a double dose of this medication unless otherwise directed by your doctor.
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
Possible Side Effects
Although side effects from Lipitor are not common, they can occur. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- stomach pain or cramps
- blurred vision
- rash or itching
- upset stomach
If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- muscle pain
- muscle cramps or weakness with or without a fever.
- Rare cases of muscle problems and liver problems have been associated with the use of atorvastatin and other similar medicines. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness, especially if accompanied by a fever or flulike symptoms or yellowing of the skin or eyes, abdominal pain, unexplained fatigue, dark colored urine or pale colored stools. These may be early symptoms of muscle or liver problems.
- If you experience any of the following serious side effects, stop taking atorvastatin and seek emergency medical attention or contact your doctor immediately:
- an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives);
- decreased urine or rust-colored urine; or
- blurred vision.
- Other, less serious side effects may be more likely to occur. Continue to take atorvastatin and talk to your doctor if you experience
- upset stomach or flatulence; or
- a rash.
- Side effects other than those listed here may also