Pravastatin

Brand names of pravastatin

  • Apo-Pravastatin
  • Lin-Pravastatin
  • Pravachol

Pravastatin is an oral prescription medication belonging to the class of drugs known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, usually called 'statins' and is used to reduce the cholesterol level in bloodstream that adds to the formation of plaques on the artery walls. These plaques block the blood circulation resulting in a health condition called arteriosclerotic vascular disease. While obstruction of the blood circulation to the heart often causes heart attacks, obstacles in the regular flow of blood to the brain results in strokes. It has been proved that using pravastatin not only lessens the risks of heart attacks and strokes, but also reduces the occurrence of death due to arteriosclerotic vascular disease.

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It may be noted here that statins have the aptitude to lower cholesterol levels in the bloodstream by slowing down or by interfering with the activities of HMG-CoA reductase, an enzyme naturally present in the liver and essential for cholesterol production. When present in the bloodstream, statins are known to reduce the total as well as the LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or 'bad' cholesterol, in addition to triglycerides. It is believed that LDL cholesterol is a significant reason behind the development of arteriosclerotic vascular disease. When the level of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream is lessened, it demonstrates a sluggish development or reduction in the mass of plaques enclosing cholesterol in the arteries leading to the heart and brain and also other body tissues. Simultaneously, statins also help to augment HDL (high density lipoprotein) or 'good' cholesterol in the bloodstream. In effect, higher intensity of HDL cholesterol in the bloodstream is related to lower risks of developing arteriosclerotic vascular disease. In addition, increasing the levels of HDL cholesterol may also inhibit the development of arteriosclerotic vascular disease.

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It has been discovered by scientists that the irritation of the coronary arteries may possibly also add to the development of arteriosclerotic vascular disease. In effect, inflammation of the coronary arteries is related to high intensity of a protein known as C-reactive protein in the bloodstream. It is possible to measure this C-reactive protein by means of an examination, which is known as 'extremely sensitive' C-reactive protein test or the Hs-CRP. High intensity of Hs-CRP forecasts the occurrences of  strokes, heart attacks  and also death. Compared to all cholesterol tests, the Hs-CRP is considered to be an improved indicator of strokes, heart attacks and death. In such cases, statins lower the intensity of Hs-CRP and it has been indicated that statins also are likely to lower the risks of arteriosclerotic vascular disease by diminishing inflammation as well as reducing the intensity of cholesterol.

It may be noted here that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved the sale and use of the prescription drug pravastatin for treating high blood cholesterol levels in October 1991.

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Things you need to tell your physician before taking pravastatin

Prior to starting treatment with the cholesterol lowering prescription drug pravastatin, you ought to adopt a number of precautions. First and foremost, before taking the medicine for the first time, tell your physician or pharmacist if you have any allergic reactions to pravastatin or have any additional allergic problems. It is important to note that pravastatin may enclose a number of inactive elements which may result in allergic reactions or other health problems. Hence, before using this medication, you ought to know about all its ingredients and if you are unsure about it, ask your pharmacist to provide you with a list of the same or for further details in this regard.

Before you begin therapy with pravastatin, it is important to inform your physician or pharmacist regarding all the medications, including prescription and non-prescription (over-the-counter) drugs and herbal products being used by you currently or those you intend to use in near future. In addition, tell your physician or pharmacist about your entire medical history, particularly if you have or ever had any liver ailment, kidney disease or if you are consuming alcoholic beverages. In case you need to undergo a surgery or dental operation, tell your surgeon or dentist that you are using pravastatin. Furthermore, you should also keep them informed about all other medications being used by you.

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Patients taking the prescription drug pravastatin should restrict their consumption of alcoholic beverages. It is important to note that daily consumption of alcoholic beverages is likely to augment the risk of liver problems, particularly when you are taking this medication. Consult your physician or pharmacist for further information in this regard. Elderly people taking pravastatin are likely to be more susceptible to the side effects of this medication - they may particularly experience muscle problems.

Pregnant women are advised not to use pravastatin, as this medication has the potential to harm the fetus or unborn baby. Hence, women taking this medication should take extra precaution to avoid becoming pregnant while they are taking pravastatin. It is best for them to talk to their physician regarding more details as well as to seek advice on the two best modes of birth control (such as oral contraceptives and condoms) while taking pravastatin. In case any woman taking this medication becomes pregnant or think that she may get pregnant during the course of treatment, she should right away contact her physician and seek advice on what they should do next. It may also be noted that pravastatin passes onto the breast milk and is likely to result in unwanted effects on the nursing infants. Therefore, women taking this medication should not breast feed their new born. It is advisable that they talk to their physician before they breast feed their infants.

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Usage

The oral prescription medication pravastatin, which belongs to the class of drugs called HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, has been indicated to treat high blood cholesterol levels. Generally, this medication is prescribed when the first line of treatment, which includes, weight loss, diet changes and work-outs, fails to lower the LDL (low density lipoprotein) or 'bad' cholesterol and total cholesterol, to normal levels. In addition, this medication is also prescribed as a preventive measure for patients who are known to have cardiovascular ailments and with a cholesterol level that hovers around normal to high.

How to use pravastatin

Pravastatin is an oral medication which can be taken with or without food or as instructed by your physician. Normally, this prescription drug is taken once every day and to obtain the best results, it is advisable to take the medication in the evening. The dosage of pravastatin is largely dependent on the medical condition of the patient, his/ her age, and reaction to the therapy as well as other medications that they might be taking concurrently. Hence, it is important to tell your physician or pharmacist about all the other prescription and non-prescription (over-the-counter) drugs as well as herbal products being used by you currently. This will help your physician to adjust the right dosage of pravastatin for you.

In case you are also taking some other specific drugs to lower the blood cholesterol levels, for instance bile acid-binding resins like colestipol or cholestyramine, it is advisable that you should take pravastatin no less than an hour before or a minimum of four hours after taking these medicines. In effect, these medicines have the aptitude to interact with pravastatin, putting off the complete absorption of this cholesterol lowering drug by the body. Most importantly, you ought to take pravastatin on a regular basis with a view to obtain the maximum benefit of taking this medication. In order to help you remember to take the medication every day, take pravastatin at the same time daily. Even if you start feeling better after taking this medicine for a while, do not stop taking it, but continue the full course recommended by your physician. It may be noted here that majority of the patients having high levels of blood cholesterol or triglycerides usually do not feel sick. Therefore, it is very important to keep on following the instructions/ advice of your physician regarding diet and exercise. Generally, it might take as long as four weeks for a patient taking pravastatin to experience the full advantages of taking this medication.

How pravastatin works

The cholesterol lowering drug pravastatin works by obstructing the actions of an enzyme called of HMG-CoA reductase that is essential for producing cholesterol. By blocking the actions of this enzyme, pravastatin prevents the formation of cholesterol. As this medication reduces the level of cholesterol in the liver cells, it enhances the formation of receptor for LDL (low density lipoprotein) or 'bad' cholesterol and, thus, lowers the levels of LDL and total cholesterol in the bloodstream. Apart from reducing the LDL cholesterol level in the bloodstream, this prescription drug also lowers the levels of triglyceride and, at the same time, increases the intensity of HDL (high density lipoprotein) or 'good' cholesterol in the bloodstream.

Side effects

Serious
Common
Less common

Possible interactions

As with the case of most other medications, even pravastatin is also likely to interact with certain other drugs, including herbal products and minerals. Therefore, these medications should not be taken in conjunction with pravastatin. For instance, garlic has the potential to slow down the platelet formation or blood-clotting aggregation. This aspect should be taken into consideration if you are taking any platelet inhibitor from before. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has permitted the sale of one dietary supplement called cholestin in the market. This medication encloses a chemical substance called lovastatin. As the use of two HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors is likely to enhance the risks of myopathy or rhabdomyolysis (degeneration of skeletal muscle tissue), it is not advisable to use these in conjunction.

In addition, soy (including milk, tofu and so on) encloses phytoestrogens, which has resulted in the FDA approving the health claim for lowering the risk of heart disease - provided that each serving contains a minimum of 6.25 grains of soy protein. In fact, if you substitute some of the meat in your meal with soy products, it would also help you to lower the blood cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. Since pravastatin has the aptitude to diminish co-enzyme Q10, supplementation might be required.

As far as food is concerned, patients with high blood cholesterol levels should strictly follow a low cholesterol diet or the diet prescribed by their physician.

Discontinuation

It is advisable that patients taking this prescription drug to lower blood cholesterol levels should not discontinue taking it all of a sudden or without the help and knowledge of their physician. It is important that you consult your physician before you stop taking pravastatin. Discontinuing this medication abruptly may result in considerable augmentation of cholesterol levels in the bloodstream.

Storage instructions

Although the cholesterol lowering prescription drug pravastatin should always be stored at room temperature at 77°F or 25°C, it is permissible to store this medication at temperatures ranging between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°C) only for a brief while. It is essential to store this medicine in a place that is away from light and moisture. In other words, pravastatin should always be stored in a dry and dark place. Remember, you should never keep this mediation in your bathroom, which is mostly damp. In addition, always keep all medicines in such a place which is beyond the reach of children and pets.

It is important to discard the medications you do not need any longer or which have passed their expiry date in an appropriate and safe manner. If not directed otherwise, never get rid of the medication by flushing it down the toilet or pouring it into a drain. If necessary, consult your pharmacist or the neighbourhood waste disposal firm regarding the safe and appropriate way of disposing of the unwanted product.

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