Atorvastatin

Brand names of atorvastatin

  • Lipitor

Atorvastatin is an oral medication that belongs to the class of drugs known as statins. This medication is prescribed for people having high blood cholesterol levels. Statins also comprise medications like simvastatin (Zocor), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), fluvastatin (Lescol) and rosuvastatin (Crestor). All medications belonging to the class of statins, counting atorvastatin, thwart the cholesterol production in the liver by obstructing the HMG-CoA reductase - an enzyme that produces cholesterol. Statins work by diminishing the levels of total cholesterol as well as low density lipoprotein (LDL or 'bad') cholesterol in the blood stream. It is understood that LDL cholesterol is harmful and is mainly accountable for people developing coronary artery disease. When the level of LDL cholesterol is reduced in the bloodstream, it slows down the progression and possibly also reverses coronary artery disease. In addition, atorvastatin augments the level of high density lipoprotein (HDL or 'good') cholesterol in the bloodstream that not only shields us from developing coronary artery disease, but also lowers the level of triglycerides. It may be noted that high levels of triglycerides have also been responsible for the development of coronary artery disease. Atorvastatin was approved for sale and general use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December 1996.

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Things you need to tell your physician before taking atorvastatin

As in the instance of beginning treatment with any new prescription drug, before you start taking atorvastatin, you need to tell a few things to your physician or pharmacist. First and foremost, you need to tell them about all the prescription and over-the-counter drugs, herbal products, dietary supplements and vitamins you are already taking or plan to take in the near future.

In case you are suffering from any liver ailment, it is essential that you tell this to your physician so that he may ask you to undergo laboratory examinations to find out the precise functioning of your liver. These tests are important prior to taking atorvastatin even if you are not suffering from any liver problem. In case you have a liver problem or had one before, it is likely that your physician will recommend you against taking atorvastatin. Also tell your physician if you have or ever had any muscle aches or debility, diabetes, convulsions, thyroid problem, low blood pressure or a kidney ailment. Inform your physician if you are consuming more than two pegs of alcoholic beverages in a day.

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Women intending to take this drug should tell their physician beforehand if they are pregnant or planning to get pregnant. If any woman taking atorvastatin becomes pregnant while undergoing treatment with this drug, she should stop taking the medication instantly and contact her physician right away. It may be noted that atorvastatin has the potential to harm the still born baby. In addition, breast-feeding is not advisable while taking atorvastatin.

Prior to undergoing any surgery, counting dental surgery, it is essential that you tell your surgeon/ dentist that you are taking atorvastatin. In case you are admitted to a hospital following any infection or injury, tell you attending physicians that you are taking this medication.

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Before you start taking atorvastatin, you should seek your physician's advice regarding the safe use of alcoholic beverages while undergoing treatment with this drug. Remember, alcohol has the potential to augment the side effects brought about following the use of atorvastatin.

Usage

Atorvastatin belongs to the class of drugs called statins and is used to cure high levels of blood cholesterol. This medication is generally prescribed when all other modes of treatment, including medications, dietary changes, exercises and weight loss methods, fail to yield the desired results or bring down the concentration of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream to the desired levels.

How to use atorvastatin

Atorvastatin should be taken orally either with or without food. Alternately, you may take it as prescribed by your physician. This medication is normally taken once every day. The dosage of atorvastatin is largely dependent on the patient's health condition, age, response to the therapy as well as the other medications taken by him or her. Hence, before using atorvastatin, it is important that you tell your physician and pharmacist about all the prescription as well as non-prescription drugs that you are already taking.

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In you are undergoing treatment with atorvastatin, it is advisable that unless your physician advises otherwise, you keep away from consuming grapefruit or its juice. Remember, grapefruit has the potential to augment the presence of this medication's amount in your bloodstream. You may talk to your physician or pharmacist for more details on this subject.

In case you are also taking additional medications to lower your blood cholesterol level, such as bile acid-binding medications like colestipol or cholestyramine, you should take atorvastatin no less than an hour before or four hours after taking those drugs. This is important because the other medications taken by you may interact with atorvastatin and, thereby, obstruct its complete absorption by the body.

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In order to obtain the utmost benefit of taking atorvastatin you should take this medication on a regular basis. To help you to remember that you have to take atorvastatin, take this drug at the same time daily. Even if you start feeling better after a few months of treatment with atorvastatin, it is essential to continue taking the medication for the full treatment regimen. It is important to note that most of the patients having high levels of blood cholesterol normally do not have a sickly feeling.

While undergoing treatment with atorvastatin, it is essential that you also strictly follow your physician's instructions regarding diet and exercise. The benefits of taking atorvastatin are not evident immediately, but it may take anything like four weeks for you to feel the advantages of the therapy with this drug.

How atorvastatin works

Atorvastatin works by obstructing the activities of HMG-CoA reductase, an enzyme that is responsible for producing cholesterol in the liver. This, in turn, lowers cholesterol production in the liver. When atorvastatin lowers the amount of LDL or 'bad' cholesterol in the liver cells, this medication augments the formation of LDL receptors and, in this way, diminishes the total as well as LDL cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. Besides, bringing down the concentration of LDL cholesterol, atorvastatin also lowers the level of triglycerides and augments the level of HDL or 'good' cholesterol in the bloodstream.

Side effects

Serious:
  • chest pain
  • fever
  • muscle aches and tenderness
Common:
Less common:
  • sleeping difficulty
  • skin rash

Possible interactions

Herbal medicines or minerals:
While well-designed clinical studies are yet to provide any specific information regarding the use of garlic along with atorvastatin, it is advisable that you avoid this combination. In addition, garlic may possibly result in slowing down formation of platelets or blood clots, which you need to consider provided you are already taking a medication that inhibits platelets. There are a number of products that contain plant sterols (Benecol) and these are likely to be helpful as supporting medications for people taking atorvastatin. Moreover, soy products like milk, tofu and others enclose phytoestrogens that have resulted in health claim approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding lessening the possibilities of developing heart disease, provided if people take no less than 6.25 grams of soy protein in each serving. If you use soy products instead of meat in your diet, it may possibly assist in putting off cardiovascular ailments. Finally, as atorvastatin has the ability to eliminate coenzyme Q10, people taking this medication may require taking additional dietary supplements.
Foods:
People undergoing treatment with atorvastatin should strictly follow the diet - usually a low cholesterol diet - recommended by their physician.
Beverages:
It is advisable that atorvastatin should never be taken in conjunction with grapefruit juice. People taking atorvastatin and grapefruit simultaneously may experience too high levels of blood and an augmented risk of damage to their muscles. However, you may take this medication with water or milk.
Alcohol:
Individuals having high levels of cholesterol and undergoing treatment with atorvastatin should restrict their consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Discontinuation

It is advisable that people taking atorvastatin should not stop taking it all of a sudden or without the consent and help of their physician. Discontinuing this medication all of a sudden may result in a considerable augmentation in the blood cholesterol levels.

Storage instructions

Atorvastatin should always be stored in the container that it came in. Secure the lid of the container firmly and kept in a place that is beyond the reach of children. You should always keep this medication at room temperature and in a dry place. Never store this medication in your bathroom that is mostly damp. When any medication becomes outdated or is no longer required, dispose it off in a proper and safe manner. If necessary consult your pharmacist or any neighbourhood waste disposal company regarding the safe way of discarding atorvastatin.

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