Lipitor is a prescription medication used to manage cholesterol. It contains the active ingredient atorvastatin, and is manufactured by Pfizer. This ingredient is part of a group of medications used to decrease cholesterol called HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors. Lipitor can help limit adverse health effects related to cholesterol, and it is most often prescribed to adults. While the drug provides numerous life-saving benefits, it is not considered a stand-alone treatment. Also, some patients may experience serious risks and side effects. Discuss all potential dangers of Lipitor with your doctor before use and report any unusual symptoms right away.
Uses for Lipitor
Lipitor decreases cholesterol in the blood. Specifically, this medication reduces low-density lipoproteins (LDL) which may contribute to cardiovascular related illnesses in the future. Lipitor can also decrease triglycerides in the blood while raising healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Atorvastatin reduces LDL, or “bad” cholesterol along the arterial walls of the heart, as well as those connected with the brain.
The short-term purpose of Lipitor is to reduce LDL cholesterol levels. At the same time, this medication may also offer long-term health benefits. When blood cholesterol decreases, patients are at a reduced risk of heart attack, coronary heart disease and stroke. Patients who have already experienced these conditions may also be prescribed Lipitor as a preventive measure, as well as those with type 2 diabetes. Lipitor is most commonly used in adults, but it may also be prescribed to children over the age of 10.
Risks & Side Effects
When you first start taking Lipitor, you may experience temporary side effects. Generally, these are not harmful unless they occur frequently. Tell your doctor if you experience:
- Excessive gas
- Diarrhea or constipation
Other side effects can indicate severe reactions to Lipitor. You are at a greater risk for severe side effects if you take more than the recommended amount. Examples include:
- Memory loss or confusion
- Joint or muscle pain
- Extreme fatigue or weakness
- Abdominal pain
- Facial swelling
- Skin rashes
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dark urine
Call the poison control hotline at 1 (800) 222-1222 if you experience any severe side effects, or if you accidentally overdose on Lipitor. If a loved one has passed out, call 911 immediately.
The Food and Drug Administration has placed Lipitor under pregnancy Category X. This means that side effects to fetuses are probable. Lipitor can result in low birth rate and organ development issues. The medication can also pass onto babies through breast-milk and cause developmental delays. Never use Lipitor while pregnant and nursing, and call your doctor immediately if you discover you’re pregnant while taking this medicine. To reduce the risk, you might consider utilizing birth control while on Lipitor.
Lipitor is not appropriate for patients with certain preexisting health conditions. For example, patients with underactive thyroids are at a higher risk for kidney failure. Lipitor is not recommended for those with kidney or liver disease, as well as for patients who consume large amounts of alcohol on a regular basis.
In some cases, patients are ordered to temporarily discontinue Lipitor. Surgeries, seizures, low potassium and low blood pressure are among the reasons why your doctor may order you to stop taking this drug.
Lipitor can potentially interact with other medications and supplements, such as antibiotics, birth control tablets and other statin drugs. Grapefruit and related concentrated juices may also decrease the efficacy of Lipitor or potentially lead to deadly side effects. Be on the safe side and tell your physician about all substances you take.
You should not rely on Lipitor as your sole cholesterol management plan. The medicine works in conjunction with other lifestyle changes, such as a low-fat diet. If you continue to consume large amounts of cholesterol, any benefits of Lipitor will become futile.
Pfizer produces Lipitor in varying dosages between 10 and 80 mg. Most doctors start with the lowest dosage possible to see how patients react to the medication. The exact daily dose of your prescription also depends on your age and overall current health. Children ages 10 to 17 should not take more than 20 mg of Lipitor per day. This medicine should be taken at the same time every day, with or without a meal.
Lipitor is taken every day until your doctor instructs otherwise. Never double up on your medication if you accidentally skip a dose. If you suspect you need a different dosage, discuss options with your doctor. According to Drugs.com, most patients require analysis every two to four weeks to see if the dosage is appropriate.
Lipitor is an effective medication for many patients battling high cholesterol. At the same time, this solution is only one part of a cholesterol overhaul. Talk to your doctor about other beneficial changes needed to improve your long-term health, such as diet and exercise.