Lipitor is a type of lipid-regulating medicine containing the active ingredient atorvastatin. Statins such as Atorvastatin work in combination with a healthy lifestyle and diet to lower cholesterol in patients at high risk of heart attack or stroke.
The liver produced a substance called cholesterol, which is vital for the functioning of all cells in the body. While a high level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or ‘good’ cholesterol, in the blood is healthy, a high level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the ‘bad’ cholesterol, can build up in your arteries and lead to a heart attack or stroke. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including eating a balanced diet that is low in saturated fat and exercising regularly, is the best way to reduce levels of LDL in the blood. In addition, Lipitor works by reducing the amount of LDL produced by the liver and is prescribed to patients at high risk of heart attack or stroke.
Lipitor is most effective when taken long-term with the appropriate lifestyle. If taken correctly, your cholesterol levels should begin to drop noticeably within 4 weeks.
Statins such as Lipitor are usually taken for life, as the benefits wear off once treatment ends. They are usually only prescribed to patients at high risk of developing heart disease, such as those with a history of stroke or heart attack. The benefits of statins increase over time, and coming off them suddenly can be very dangerous. Never stop taking statins without first consulting a doctor.
The active ingredient in Lipitor is atorvastatin calcium.
The inactive ingredients in Lipitor are calcium carbonate, candelilla wax, croscarmellose sodium, hydroxypropyl cellulose, lactose monohydrate, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, Opadry White YS-1-7040 (hypromellose, polyethylene glycol, talc, titanium dioxide), polysorbate 80, simethicone emulsion.
Always take Lipitor as instructed by a doctor. Before starting this medication, your doctor will start you on a low-fat diet. Take one tablet per day at the same time each day. To help you remember, try and make this a part of your daily routine - for example, take your tablet when you brush your teeth in the morning.
If you forget to take a tablet, try and remember to take it within 12 hours. If 12 hours has already passed, just skip the dose and take your next tablet at the scheduled time. Never take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
Lipitor can be purchased as 10 mg, 20 mg or 40 mg tablets, to be taken once daily as instructed by a doctor.
Like all medications, Lipitor can cause side effects in some patients. Very rarely, these side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following, consult your doctor immediately:
More common side effects are not usually dangerous, and can include:
Do NOT take Lipitor if:
Before starting Lipitor, tell your doctor if:
Before starting Lipitor, tell your doctor if you are taking any other medications, including those bought over the counter without a prescription. In particular, tell your doctor if you are taking any medications for your immune system, cholesterol, infections, birth control, heart failure, HIV or AIDS.
Like all medications, Lipitor can cause side effects in some patients. Your doctor will prescribe a low dose to start with and gradually increase it at intervals of at least 4 weeks if necessary. If you experience troublesome side effects, consult your doctor about the possibility of switching to a different statin or high-cholesterol medication. Most side effects are mild, the most common being muscle pain or cramps. To relieve cramps, try doing daily stretching exercises and wearing compression stockings. Avoid wearing high-heeled shoes and keep your arms and leg muscles warm. Your doctor may also recommend taking magnesium supplements.
While taking Lipitor, avoid drinking too much grapefruit juice, as it can increase the concentration of this medication in your system. Drink no more than 2 glasses per day, and never within an hour of taking your medication.
You can drink alcohol while taking this medication, but you are advised not to drink more than the recommended 14 units per week. Too much alcohol can increase the effectiveness of Lipitor, which can be dangerous.
The 5 types of statins available on prescription in the UK are Atorvastatin (Lipitor), Fluvastatin (Lescol), Pravastatin (Lipostat), Rosuvastatin (Crestor) and Simvastatin (Zocor). The main difference between them is their lowering effect on cholesterol levels. Low-intensity statins such as Fluvastatin, Pravastatin and Simvastatin are sufficient for lowering the cholesterol in the majority of patients. If a doctor feels you are at higher risk, or that a higher dosage is needed, they may prescribe a high intensity statin such as Atorvastatin or Rosuvastatin. Different statins can have different side effects and may affect people in different ways. If you are worried about troublesome side effects, your doctor may chose to prescribe you a different type of statin.
The best way to reduce cholesterol levels is to make changes to your lifestyle, and before prescribing statins your doctor will place you on a low-cholesterol diet. Cut down on foods that are high in saturated fats, such as fatty or processed meats, butter and lard, cream and ice cream, cheese (particularly hard cheese) cakes, biscuits, chocolate, and products containing coconut or palm oil. Exercising regularly is imperative, as is losing weight healthily if you are overweight. You should also try to cut down on alcohol and caffeine and, if you haven’t already done so, quit smoking.
Do not take Lipitor if you are pregnant, think you might be pregnant, are planning on becoming pregnant, or are breastfeeding.
High-density lipoproteins (‘good cholesterol’) are beneficial to the body, while low-density proteins (‘bad cholesterol’) can be dangerous. High levels of ‘bad cholesterol’ can lead to a heart attack or stroke and it is therefore essential to reduce levels of high cholesterol.
You will not be able to feel Lipitor working, but your doctor may wish to conduct regular blood tests to monitor your blood cholesterol levels. If you maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle, Lipitor will work to its full potential.
Lipitor is not a cure for high cholesterol, and blood cholesterol levels will rise again if this medication is stopped. For this reason, Lipitor is usually taken for life and, when used in combination with the correct lifestyle changes, is an effective means of lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease.
You can drive while taking Lipitor.