Lovastatin

Brand names of lovastatin

  • Apo-Lovastatin
  • Gen-Lovastatin
  • Mevacor

Lovastatin is a cholesterol lowering medication that belongs to the class of drugs known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors. More commonly, lovastatin is known as a 'statin'. Statins are known to lessen the blood cholesterol levels by slowing down the activities of an enzyme in the liver called HMG-CoA reductase, which is essential for producing cholesterol. When in the bloodstream, statins reduce total cholesterol, triglycerides and low density lipoproteins (LDL), also known as 'bad' cholesterol. In effect, LDL cholesterol is considered to be a major cause for development of coronary artery disease. Thus, reducing the levels of LDL cholesterol not only inhibits, but also reverses coronary artery disease. In addition, statins also help in augmenting the amount of high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, also known as 'good' cholesterol, in the blood. Thus, the dual action of statins - lowering the levels of LDL and increasing the amount of HDL, helps to inhibit or slow down the progression of coronary artery disease. The Food and Drug Administration had approved the sale and use of lovastatin in August, 1987.

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Things you need to tell your physician before taking lovastatin

As in the case of starting treatment with any new medication, you ought to take a number of precautions before taking lovastatin. Prior to taking this cholesterol-lowering drug, it is important to tell your physician or pharmacist whether this medication results in any allergic reaction or if you suffer from any other allergy. This medication may enclose some inactive ingredients that may result in allergic reactions or other health problems. Therefore, if you are not aware of the ingredients of lovastatin, ask your physician for further details.

Before you start treatment with lovastatin, you must tell your physician or pharmacist regarding your entire medical history, particularly if you have been suffering from any liver problem, kidney ailment or use alcoholic beverages. People who take this medication should essentially restrict the amount of alcoholic drinks they consume. In case such people are habituated to alcoholic beverages and drink them every day, they may face an increased risk of having liver problems, particularly when it is taken in combination with lovastatin. If you are not sure as to how you should deal with the problem ask your physician or pharmacist for further details in this regard.

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If patients taking lovastatin need to undergo any surgery, including dental operation, they ought to tell their surgeon/ dentist that they are taking this cholesterol-lowering medication. In addition, they should also tell their physician about all the prescription and non-prescription (over-the-counter) drugs, herbal products, vitamins and supplement they are taking currently or intend to take. It may be noted here that aged people taking lovastatin are likely to be more susceptible to the side effects of this cholesterol-lowering medication. They are more likely to suffer from muscle problems.

Pregnant women should never use lovastatin as it has the potential to cause harm to the fetus. Therefore, it is advisable that women using lovastatin should avoid getting pregnant while taking this cholesterol-lowering medication. Such women should not only consult their doctor for further details in this regard, but also use two dependable forms of contraceptives, for instance, condoms and oral contraceptives, while taking lovastatin. In case women taking lovastatin become pregnant during treatment with this medication, they must contact their physician immediately for instructions regarding what they should do next.

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Thus far, it is yet to be ascertained if lovastatin passes on to breast milk. However, since this medication has the potential to harm the infant, it is advisable that new mothers using this cholesterol-lowering drug should avoid breast feeding. It is, therefore, important for such women to talk to their physician before breast feeding.

Usage

Lovastatin has been indicated in the treatment of high cholesterol. This medication is generally prescribed when the initial stages of treatment, such as diet, exercise and weight loss, fail to lower total as well as low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the bloodstream to satisfactory levels.

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How to use lovastatin

The cholesterol lowering medicine lovastatin should be taken orally as instructed by your physician. Generally, this medication is taken once every day with the evening mail. However, physicians may direct some patients to take the medication twice every day. In effect, the dosage of this prescription drug is dependent on the patient's medical condition, response to treatment, age as well as other medications that he/ she may be taking currently. Therefore, it is important that before you start taking lovastatin, you tell your physician regarding all the other prescription and non-prescription (over-the-counter) drugs, herbal products, dietary supplements, vitamins and minerals that you are taking currently. Unless your physician instructs otherwise, you should not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while taking this medication. People taking lovastatin should be aware that grapefruit has the potential to enhance the amount of this drug in their bloodstream. It is advisable that you consult your physician for further details in this connection.

In the event of a patient taking any other cholesterol lowering medication, such as cholestyramine or colestipol - two bile acid-binding resins, lovastatin should be taken a minimum of one hour before or four hours after taking such medications. It is important to note that these medications have the potential to interact with lovastatin and avert the complete absorption of this cholesterol lowering medication. In addition, if you desire to obtain the utmost benefit from using lovastatin, take this medication on a regular basis and to help you to remember to take the medication daily and at the right time, it is advisable that you take it at the same time every day. It is also advisable that you continue taking lovastatin according to your prescription even if you start feeling better. It may be noted here that majority of the patients enduring high cholesterol and/ or triglycerides in their bloodstream usually do not fall ill owing to these conditions. Therefore, it is extremely vital to follow the instructions of your physician regarding your diet and exercise. It is unlikely that you will experience the benefits of using lovastatin immediately. Normally, it takes around four weeks before a patient enduring high level of cholesterol and/ or triglycerides in his/ her bloodstream experiences full benefits of using this medication.

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In the event of missing a dose of lovastatin, you should take it immediately when you remember. However, if it is already time for the subsequent dose, it is advisable to forego the missed dose and continue with your dosage program. Never try to take a double dose to make up for the missed dose, as it may make your condition worse or result in side effects.

How lovastatin works

Lovastatin is a cholesterol lowering drug that works by obstructing the actions of an enzyme - HMG-CoA reductase, which is essential for the production of cholesterol. Hence, by obstructing or inhibiting the enzyme, lovastatin prevents the formation of cholesterol inside the body. The action of lovastatin to lessen the levels of cholesterol inside the liver cells helps to increase the formation of LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol receptors. By this way, lovastatin helps to lower the level of total and LDL cholesterol as well as triglycerides in the bloodstream. Besides reducing the level of LDL cholesterol in the blood, this medication also helps to discreetly increase the amount of HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol in the bloodstream.

Side effects

Serious
Common
Less common
  • Sleeping difficulty

Possible interactions

Like most drugs, lovastatin may also interact with other medications, including herbal products and or minerals and, hence, they ought not to be used concurrently. For instance, using garlic is likely to slow down the formation of blood clotting (platelets) and in case you are already taking any platelet inhibitor, you should discuss the issue with your physician. In effect, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the sale of one dietary supplement known as Cholestin. This dietary supplement actually encloses the drug lovastatin. It is not advisable to take two HMG-CoA inhibitors simultaneously as this may actually enhance the hazards of developing myopathy or rhabdomyolysis (any anomaly or disease of muscle tissue).

It may be noted here that using products that contain plant stanol ester, such as Benecol, may facilitate in reducing total as well as LDL cholesterol levels in the body. In addition, there is an FDA approved health claim that using soy (such as, milk, tofu and so on) containing phytoestrogens helps in lowering the risk of heart ailments provided the product encloses a minimum of 6.25 grams of soy protein in each serving. In addition, you may also combat excess cholesterol levels in the body if you substitute meat with some soy in your diet. This has proved to be a fruitful measure to control the cholesterol in the bloodstream. Lovastatin is known to have the potential to exhaust coenzyme Q10 and, hence, it may be necessary to include a dietary supplement.

Some foods as well as beverages may also interact with lovastatin. Hence, it is important to follow a normal diet that is low in cholesterol content. Drinking grapefruit juice too has the potential to augment the cholesterol levels in the bloodstream and, therefore, people with high cholesterol levels and those taking lovastatin should avoid taking this beverage.

Discontinuation

Patients taking the cholesterol-lowering drug lovastatin should never discontinue the medication abruptly or without consulting their physician. It is advisable that you stop taking this medication under the supervision of your physician.

Storage instructions

Lovastatin should always be stored at room temperature and in a dark and dry place. It may be noted that the temperature for storing this medication varies depending on the product of different manufacturers. Hence, it is important for you to talk to your physician or pharmacist for further details regarding the appropriate storage temperature of the brand of the medication you are using. However, remember that this medication should never be stored in the bathroom, which is mostly damp. In addition, take care to keep all medications beyond the reach of children and pets.

When you do not require the medication any longer or if its expiry date has lapsed, dispose of the drug in an appropriate and safe manner. Unless you have instructed otherwise, never dispose of the medication by flushing it down the toilet or pouring it into a drain. If you are not sure about the safe mode of disposing of the medication, talk to your pharmacist or the neighbourhood disposal company for more details in this regard.

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