Lipitor (Atorvastatin)

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What is Lipitor (Atorvastatin)?

Lipitor/Atorvastatin is a drug called a “statin”. It works to reduce what are known as “bad” cholesterol levels (sometimes termed LDL or low-density lipoprotein) and blood triglycerides, while it increases “good” cholesterol levels. “Good” cholesterol is known as HDL or high-density lipoprotein.

Atorvastatin treats high cholesterol, while it lowers your risk for stroke, heart attack and other heart issues in people who have coronary disease, type 2 diabetes or other specific risk factors.

Atorvastatin may be used in adults, as well as for children 10 years of age or older. It may be used for other purposes that are not within this guide.

What Do I Need to Know about Lipitor (Atorvastatin)?

Don’t take Lipitor if you have been diagnosed with liver disease, if you are breast-feeding or pregnant or if you have allergies to the medication.

Stop taking atorvastatin and inform your physician immediately if you get pregnant.

Before you take atorvastatin, inform your physician if you have kidney disease history, muscle weakness or pain, thyroid disorder or if you have over two alcoholic drinks per day.

In rare instances, atorvastatin may cause a breakdown of the muscle tissues of the skeleton, which leads to kidney failure. Inform your physician immediately if you experience unexplained weakness, tenderness or pain in muscles, especially if you are also experiencing dark colored urine, unusual tiredness and fever.

Do not eat foods high in cholesterol or fat if you are taking atorvastatin. It will not effectively lower your levels of cholesterol if you are not following a diet plan that also lowers cholesterol.

Avoid alcohol while on atorvastatin. It may raise your triglyceride levels and increase the risk that you could experience liver damage.

Other drugs may increase the chance that you experience serious medical issues when taken with atorvastatin. Speak with your physician about every medication you use. This will include prescriptions, over the counter medications, herbal products and vitamins.

Don’t start any new medications while on atorvastatin without first speaking to your doctor. Be sure to keep a medication list of what you take, and show this list to any local healthcare provider you see for treatment.

Atorvastatin is just one part of the complete treatment program that includes exercise, diet and controlling your weight. Be sure to follow all your exercise, medications and diet routines closely.

What Should I Know before I Take Lipitor (Atorvastatin)?

Do not take Lipitor if you have allergies to it, or if you are breastfeeding or pregnant. In addition, do not take Lipitor if you currently are diagnosed with liver disease.

To be sure that atorvastatin is safe for you to take, speak with your physician if you experience any conditions from this list:

  • Kidney disease history
  • Liver disease history
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Muscle weakness or pain
  • If you have over two alcoholic beverages a day

In unusual cases, atorvastatin may cause a condition resulting in skeletal muscle breakdown. This leads to failure of the kidneys. This is more likely in people who already have kidney disease, and older individuals. It is also more likely in people who have an underactive thyroid that is not properly controlled.

Speak with your physician about any other medications that you use. Some other drugs may increase the risk that you develop serious muscle issues. Your physician must know if you use any of these drugs:

  • Fenofibrate (brand names Triglide, Tricor, Lofibra, Lipofen, Fenoglide or Antara), fenofibric acid (brand names Trilipix or Fibricor) or genfibrozil (brand name Lopid)
  • Teleprevir (brand name Incivek) or diltiazem (brand names Tiazac, Taztia, Diltzac, Diltia, Dilacor, Cartia or Cardizem)
  • Antifungal medications like voriconazole (brand name Vfend), ketoconazole (brand name Nizoral), itraconazole (brand name Sporanox) or fluconazole (brand name Diflucan)
  • Antibiotics including erythromycin (brand names Pediazole, Erythrocine, Ery-Tan, EryPed or E.E.S) or clarithromycin (brand name Biaxin)
  • HIV medicines like tipranavir (brand name Aptivus), saquinavir (brand name Invirase), nelfinavir (brand name Viracept), ritonavir/lopinavir (brand name Kaletra), ritonavir (brand name Norvir), fosamprenavir (brand name Lexiva) or darunavir (brand name Prexista)
  • Medicines containing niacin (brand names Slo-Niaqcin, Simcor, Niacor, Niaspan, Advicor or others)
  • Medications that may weaken your immune system, including cancer medicine or steroids
  • Medications used to prevent the rejection of transplanted organs, like tacrolimus (brand name Prograf), sirolimus (brand name Rapamune) or cyclosporine (brand names Sandimmune, Neoral or Genegraf)

Atorvastatin is in the FDA category X for Pregnancy. It may harm unborn babies or cause serious birth defects. You should not take Lipitor if you are already pregnant or become pregnant. Discontinue use of atorvastatin and inform your physician immediately if you are on the medication and get pregnant. Always use effective methods of birth control so that pregnancy can be avoided while taking atorvastatin.

Atorvastatin can pass into your breast milk and may harm nursing babies. Do not feed your baby by breast-feeding if you take atorvastatin.

Side Effects of Lipitor (Atorvastatin)

Seek emergency help if you develop any allergic reaction signs: swelling of throat, tongue, lips or face; difficulty breathing, hives.

Discontinue atorvastatin and inform your physician immediately if you experience any of the side effects below. They are serious:

  • Memory problems or confusion
  • Unexplained muscle weakness, tenderness or pain
  • Dark colored urine, fever and unusual tiredness
  • Weight gain, swelling
  • Urinating less, or not urinating
  • Weight loss, blurred vision, dry skin, drowsiness, fruity odor on breath, dry mouth, hunger, increased thirst or increased urination
  • Jaundice (yellowing of eyes or skin), clay-color bowel movements, dark urine, appetite loss, itching, stomach pain or nausea

Some side effects that are less serious include:

  • Mild nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Mild pain in muscles

This side effect list is not complete. Other side effects may occur. Contact your physician for advice about any side effects. Side effects may be reported to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Interactions of Lipitor

There are many medications that may interact with Lipitor or atorvastatin. Speak with your physician if you use:

  • cimetidine (brand name Tagamet)
  • birth control medications in pill form
  • imatinib (brand name Gleevec)
  • isoniazid (used to treat tuberculosis)
  • conivaptan (brand name Vaprisol)
  • spironolactone (brand names Aldactone and Aldactazide)
  • antidepressants like nefazodone
  • antibiotics like telithromycin (brand name Ketek), rifampin (brand names Rifamate, Rifadin or Rifater), quinupristin/ dalfopristin (brand name Synercid) and others
  • HIV and AIDS medications including indinavir (brand name Crixivan), efavirenz (brand names Sustiva and Atripla), delavirdine (brand name Rescriptor) or atazanavir (brand name Reyataz)
  • Blood pressure or heart medicines like verapamil (brand names Verelan, Isoptin, Covera and Calan), quinidine (brand name Quin-G), nicardipine (brand name Cardene), diltiazem (brand names Cartia and Cardizem) and digoxin (brand name Lanoxin)
  • Any other medications in the “statin” class, like simvastatin (Vytorin, Simcor and Zocor), rosuvastatin (brand name Crestor), pravastatin (brand name Pravachol), lovastatin (brand names Altoprev and Mevacor), fluvastatin (brand name Lescol), and atrvastation and amlodipine (brand name Caduet)

This is not a complete list. There are numerous other drugs which may increase your medical problem risk if taken with atorvastatin. Let your physician know about any medicines you use. This should include prescriptions, over the counter medications, herbal products and vitamins. Do not begin a new medicine while on atorvastatin without discussing it with your physician.

What Should Be Avoided while Taking Lipitor (Atorvastatin)?

Do not eat foods high in cholesterol or fat, or your atorvastatin won’t be as effective in cholesterol lowering. You must follow your diet plan that also lowers cholesterol.

Avoid the drinking of alcohol. This may raise your levels of triglycerides and could increase a risk for liver damage.

Grapefruit and juice from this fruit can interact with Lipitor/atorvastatin, and could lead to effects that are potentially serious. Speak with your physician about consuming grapefruit.

Dosage for Lipitor

Take this medication exactly as your physician prescribes. Don’t take smaller or larger amounts or for a longer time period than your physician recommends. Follow label directions. Do not break tablets apart unless told to do so by your physician.

Atorvastatin is generally taken once per day, and may be taken with food or without it. Take this medicine the same basic time every day. Your physician might change your atorvastatin dose occasionally, to ensure that you have the best possible results.

You might need to discontinue atorvastatin for a time if you experience:

  • An imbalance in electrolytes (potassium levels that are too high or too low)
  • Seizures that cannot be controlled
  • Severe illness or infection
  • Dangerously low blood pressure
  • Medical emergency or surgery

To ensure that this medication is actually helping your cholesterol condition, you will need to have your blood tested often.

Atorvastatin is just one portion of a treatment program that includes exercise, diet and control of your weight. Follow your exercise, diet and medicine routines closely. This medication may need to be taken long-term, to treat high cholesterol effectively.

Store at proper room temperature and away from light, moisture and heat.

What if I Experience a Lipitor (Atorvastatin) Overdose?

Seek emergency attention or call your Poison Help line: 1-800-222-1222.

What if I Miss a Lipitor (Atorvastatin) Dose?

Take a missed dose when you remember. Skip that dose if your next scheduled dose is 12 hours or less away. Never double up on medications if you miss a dose.

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