Lipitor is the commercial name for atorvastatin, a medicine generally prescribed to lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Lipitor reduces the amount of LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and increases the amount of HDL ‘good’ cholesterol in the body. Thus, it basically functions to minimize heart-related complications and manage existing heart conditions.
Apart from this basic function, Lipitor may also be given to people with type 2 diabetes, hypertension, history of smoking, or other conditions that increase the risk of developing heart disease.
Lipitor belongs to a class of drugs called statins. These are widely prescribed in the US, and Lipitor is among the top-selling drugs of all time – above 29 million individuals in the US have been prescribed the drug. Pfizer manufactures Lipitor, after receiving approval by the Food And Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996.
Risk Of Diabetes
Clinical studies show using Lipitor represents an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes. In 2014, Pfizer had to face lawsuits by women who claimed that the drug gave them type 2 diabetes. The company denied liability stating that this must have been due to the women having other risk factors for the disease, such as hypertension. Nevertheless, FDA called to include in the label of the drug warnings about elevating blood sugar levels.
A study based on over 470,000 patients recently treated with statins revealed that Lipitor did indeed present a risk for diabetes. However, this risk is only prevalent in certain groups, such as the elderly, females and Asians.
Risk Of Myopthay And Kidney Failure
When taking Lipitor, there is a possible risk of developing myopathy – a disease where muscle fibers fail to function normally. If you experience tenderness, pain or weakness in muscles, along with fever, report to your doctor immediately.
In rare cases, Lipitor might cause skeletal muscles to break down, resulting in kidney failure. If you experience unexplained muscle weakness, fatigue and dark-colored urine, contact your doctor right away.
Pregnancy And Lipitor Effects
Statins generally put the fetus at risk and should be avoided during pregnancy. Women of childbearing age using Lipitor should use some method of birth control to avoid a pregnancy. Also, women who are breastfeeding should avoid the drug, since it can pass via breast milk to the infant.
Lipitor Side Effects, Uses, Dosage And Warnings
Lipitor side effects: There are certain serious side-effects associated with Lipitor
- unexplained muscle weakness and pain
- cognitive problems – confusion, memory loss
- fever and fatigue
- dark-colored urine
- urinating less frequently or more often
- weight gain or loss
- thirst, hunger, fruity breath, skin dryness, blurred or loss of vision
- nausea, upper stomach pain, clay-colored stool, jaundice
Lipitor Can Trigger Allergic Reactions
Get emergency assistance immediately if you experience anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) that includes:
- labored breathing
- swelling of the face, tongue, lips or throat
Interactions With Alcohol
Taking Lipitor with alcohol can increase triglyceride levels and the risk of liver damage.
Before taking Lipitor, it is important to tell your doctor if you:
- have a thyroid disorder
- suffer from muscle weakness or pain
- have a history of liver disease (hepatitis, fatty liver, cirrhosis)
- have a history of kidney disease
- consume more than two drinks of alcohol per day
For Lipitor to be effective, you must follow a cholesterol-lowering diet plan as well. Thus avoid foods that are high in saturated fat. Also, you must stick to an exercise regime to keep your weight in check.
Interactions With Drugs
To sure to mention to your doctor of you are taking any of the following prescription, non-prescription, over-the-counter (OTC), illegal or recreational drugs, herbal remedies, nutritional and dietary supplements, and any other medicines you might be using. Some of the main ones include:
- Diltiazem (Cardizem, Cartia, Dilacor, Diltia, Diltzac, Taztia, Tiazac)
- Gemfibrozil (Lopid), fenofibric acid (Fibricor, Trilipix), or fenofibrate (Antara, Fenoglide, Lipofen, Lofibra, Tricor, Triglide)
- Telaprevir (Incivek)
- Antifungal medicines such as fluconazole (Diflucan), itraconazole (Sporanox), ketoconazole (Nizoral), or voriconazole (Vfend)
- HIV medications such as darunavir (Prexista), fosamprenavir (Lexiva), ritonavir (Norvir), lopinavir/ritonavir (Kaletra), nelfinavir (Viracept), saquinavir (Invirase), or tipranavir (Aptivus)
- Medicines that contain niacin (Advicor, Niaspan, Niacor, Simcor, Slo-Niacin, and others)
- Oral contraceptives
- Antibiotics such as clarithromycin (Biaxin) or erythromycin (E.E.S., EryPed, Ery-Tab, Erythrocin, Pediazole)
- Drugs that weaken your immune system, such as steroids, cancer medicine, or medicines used to prevent organ transplant rejection, such as cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune), sirolimus (Rapamune), or tacrolimus (Prograf)
Lipitor can be taken as a single dose any time of the day, with our without food. The dosage range is generally 10 to 80 milligrams (mg) once a day, and is usually prescribed as 10 or 20 mg once daily – this basically depends on your medical history and health status.
A missed dose should be taken as soon as you remember unless more than 12 hours have elapsed. If this is the case, just take your next dose at its regular time. Do not take two doses at a time; you could be at a risk of overdosing.