Lipitor is a medication taken to lower cholesterol levels. Lipitor is the brand name of a medication called atorvastatin, a type of statin. In some people, Lipitor is also prescribed to minimise the risk of heart disease or strokes occurring in future.
- Lipitor belongs to the family of medications called statins
- Lipitor is prescribed to treat high cholesterol levels
- If your doctor thinks that you might be at risk, Lipitor can be prescribed to prevent serious health complications such as a heart attack or stroke in future
- Lipitor is the brand name of atorvastatin
- Lipitor only needs to be taken once a day
- It is important to read the patient leaflet for a full list of side effects and cautions.
How Does Lipitor Work?
Cholesterol is a form of fat that can build up in the walls of the blood vessels, including the arteries. High cholesterol levels may occur as a result of eating a diet high in saturated fat, but can also occur as a result of other factors.
When cholesterol is deposited in the arteries, there is a risk that the artery could become severely restricted or even blocked. This restricts the amount of oxygen and nutrients that can be transported in the vessel to the organs, including the heart, brain and kidneys. If the organ does not receive enough oxygen, it can result in damage including a heart attack or stroke.
Lipitor works to reduce the amount of cholesterol being produced and retained within the body’s blood vessels. It therefore treats high cholesterol levels, and helps to prevent future serious health complications.
How is Lipitor Taken?
Lipitor is taken once a day. The tablet should be swallowed with some water. You can take it at a time to suit you, but should try to stick to that time.
Lipitor can be taken with or without food as it is unlikely to cause nausea (feeling sick). However, if you experience any nausea, try taking Lipitor with a main meal as this may minimise any side effects.
Dosage of Lipitor
Lipitor is available in the following strengths: 10mg, 20mg, 40mg and 80mg.
The usual starting dose is 10mg once a day. Once you have been taking Lipitor for 4 weeks, you should have a blood test to check how well Lipitor is working. If your cholesterol level is still high, your doctor may advise you to increase the dose and then review in another 4 weeks. This review period may continue until your cholesterol levels reach a normal level.
Are there any Side Effects?
Like all medications, Lipitor can have some side effects. The most common side effects include:
- Constipation or diarrhoea
- Nausea (feeling sick) or indigestion
- Flatulence (excess wind)
- Cold-like symptoms.
These side effects are likely to settle down, but if they persist or are troublesome you should speak to your doctor for advice.
Occasionally, more serious side effects can occur:
- Muscle aches, pains or weakness – you should tell your doctor if this occurs as this can occasionally be a sign of serious muscle inflammation
- Cough and breathlessness – this could be a sign of a lung problem
- Yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, with dark urine (pee) or pale stools (poo) – this could be a sign of liver problems
- Severe abdominal (tummy) pain – this could be a sign of a problem with the pancreas
- Skin rashes on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet.
You must speak to a doctor straight away for further advice if any of these side effects occur.
If you have a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) including breathlessness, lip or tongue swelling, call 999 immediately.
Lipitor may not be suitable for everyone. You should tell your doctor if you:
- Have had muscular problems when taking Lipitor, atorvastatin or another statin in the past
- Have a muscle disorder, including fibromyalgia
- Have an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
- Have liver, kidney or lung problems
- Have had a stroke due to a bleed on the brain
- Have alcohol dependence or drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week
- Have ever had an allergic reaction to Lipitor, atorvastatin or any other medication
- Are pregnant, trying to conceive, or breastfeeding.
Some medications can interact with Lipitor. You may be advised that Lipitor will not suit you if you already take:
- Certain antibiotics and antifungal medications
- Immunosuppressant medications including ciclosporin
- Medications for HIV
- Certain heart medications including diltiazem and verapamil
- St John’s Wort (a herbal medication taken for low mood).