What is Atorvastatin?
Atorvastatin belongs to the group of prescription drugs “statins” used to lower cholesterol levels in your blood.
What are the uses of Atorvastatin?
Atorvastatin is included in the class of drugs “statins” or HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors. It works by inhibiting the production of cholesterol by your body. There are two main types of cholesterol in your body.
- Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) or “bad cholesterol” promotes deposition of cholesterol in blood vessels. This deposition reduces blood flow and thus, oxygen supply to the heart, brain, and other body parts.
- High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) or “good cholesterol”, on the other hand,
picks excess cholesterol from the blood and carries it to the liver, where it is metabolized and removed out of the body. HDL-C thus prevents the blockage of blood vessels with cholesterol.
Atorvastatin decreases bad cholesterol in the blood, as well as increases the level of good cholesterol. It thus helps in preventing the build-up of cholesterol in the arteries and improves blood flow to the brain, heart and other body parts. So, Atorvastatin is mainly used along with a diet to treat high cholesterol levels. It may also be used to prevent the following conditions:
- Heart attack
- Heart disorders in people with cardiovascular disease and diabetes
How do you use Atorvastatin?
- Take this medication orally once a day with or without food or as prescribed by your physician.
- Take this tablet daily at the same time.
- Follow all the instructions on the prescription label.
- Do not stop taking this combination abruptly without consulting your doctor.
If You Miss the Dose
- If you happen to miss a dose of Atorvastatin, take the missed dose as soon as you remember.
- However, if it is almost time for the next dose, do not take the missed dose and continue with your next scheduled dose.
- Do not take a double dose to compensate for the missed dose.
What Are the Side-effects and Risks of Atorvastatin?
Common: (Seen in 1 in 10 individuals)
- Pain in the throat, inflammation of nasal passage, and nose bleed
- High blood sugar levels
- Nausea, vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea
- Back pain
- Muscle and joint pain
Uncommon: (Seen in 1 in 100 individuals)
- Loss of appetite
- Low blood sugar levels
- Weight gain
- Altered sensation to pain or touch
- Numbness and tingling of toes and fingers
- Ringing of ears
- Change in taste
- Neck pain
- Chest pain
Rare: (Seen in 1 in 1000 individuals)
- Severe allergic reaction (swelling of tongue, breathlessness, and dizziness)
- Skin rash with peeling and blister formation
- Muscle tenderness, weakness, or pain
- Muscle breakdown (Rhabdomyolysis)
- Kidney problems (symptoms such as a change in the amount of urine)
- Visual disturbances
Very Rare: (Seen in 1 in 10,000 individuals)
- Unusual or unexpected bleeding
- Liver disorder (yellowing of the skin, dark urine, abdominal pain, and nausea and vomiting)
- Gynecomastia (breast enlargement in men)
This is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. Please consult your doctor to know more about other possible side effects.
Who Should Not Take Atorvastatin?
You should not take Atorvastatin if you have the following conditions:
- Liver diseases
- Kidney disorders
- Allergic to any of its ingredients
- Severe lung disease
- Thyroid disorders
- Low blood pressure
- Muscle problems, especially in elderly
Of note, Atorvastatin should not be used if you consume a large amount of alcohol. Talk to your doctor before taking Atorvastatin if:
- You are taking any other medication, are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning a pregnancy.
- You have any other allergies.
- You are allergic to any other medication.
- You are taking any other drugs, over-the-counter medicines, herbal products or nutritional supplements.
Besides, certain medicines may interfere with the working of Atorvastatin and thus might not be safe to take them together. Some of them are:
This may not be a comprehensive list, and other drugs may interact with Atorvastatin. Please inform your doctor if you are taking any of the medicines listed above.
When should you not take Atorvastatin?
You should not take Atorvastatin if:
- It has passed the expiry date of the medicine printed on the pack.
- The packaging shows signs of tampering.
Taking excess alcohol increases the risk of side-effects. Thus consult your doctor if you plan to have alcohol. Besides, inform your treating doctor or dentist about Atorvastatin if you are planning for a surgery.