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Drugs

Side Effects
Serious

Fever, chest pain, unusual or unexplained muscle aches and tenderness. Call your doctor right away.
Common

Side effects occur in only 1% to 2% of patients. These include constipation or diarrhea, dizziness or lightheadedness, bloating or gas, heartburn, nausea, allergic reaction, stomach pain, rise in liver enzymes.
Less Common

Sleeping difficulty, skin rash.
Atorvastatin


Drug Class:
Antilipidemic (cholesterol-lowering agent)

Available OTC?: No

Available Generic?: No

Lipitor 20 mg
(Parke-Davis)
Available In
Why Prescribed
How It Works
Range and Frequency
Onset of Effect
Duration of Action
Dietary Advice
Storage
Missed Dose
Stopping the Drug
Prolonged Use
Over 60
Driving and Hazardous Work
Alcohol
Pregnancy
Breast Feeding
Infants and Children
Special Concerns
Overdose Symptoms
What to Do
Drug Interactions
Food Interactions
Disease Interactions


Available In
Tablets

Why Prescribed
To treat high cholesterol. Usually prescribed after the first lines of treatment--including diet changes, weight loss, and exercise--fail to reduce to acceptable levels the amounts of total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood.

How It Works
Atorvastatin blocks the action of an enzyme required for the manufacture of cholesterol, thereby interfering with its formation. By lowering the amount of cholesterol in the liver cells, atorvastatin increases the formation of receptors for LDL, and thereby reduces blood levels of total and LDL cholesterol. In addition to lowering LDL cholesterol, atorvastatin also modestly reduces triglyceride levels and raises HDL (the so-called "good") cholesterol.

Range and Frequency
Initial dose is 10 mg a day, taken once daily. It may be increased by your doctor as needed up to a maximum dose of 80 mg per day. Unlike other "statin" cholesterol-lowering drugs, atorvastatin does not have to be taken in the evening to be maximally effective.

Onset of Effect
Two to four weeks.

Duration of Action
The effect persists for the duration of therapy.

Dietary Advice
Cholesterol-lowering drugs are only one part of a total program that should include regular exercise and a healthy diet. The American Heart Association publishes a "Healthy Heart" diet, which is recommended.

Storage
Store in a tightly sealed container in a dry place away from heat and direct light.

Missed Dose
Take it as soon as you remember. Take your next scheduled dose at the proper time and resume your regular dosage schedule. Do not double your next dose.

Stopping the Drug
The decision to stop taking the drug should be made in consultation with your doctor. Once the medication is discontinued, blood cholesterol is likely to return to original elevated levels.

Prolonged Use
Side effects are more likely with prolonged use. As you continue with atorvastatin, your doctor will periodically order blood tests to evaluate liver function.

Over 60
No special problems are expected in older patients.

Driving and Hazardous Work
The use of atorvastatin should not impair your ability to perform such tasks safely.

Alcohol
The drug should be used with caution in patients who consume substantial quantities of alcohol and/or have a past history of liver disease.

Pregnancy
Should not be used during pregnancy or by women who plan to become pregnant in the near future.

Breast Feeding
This drug is not recommended for women who are nursing.

Infants and Children
Safety and effectiveness are not known; this drug is rarely used in children. Consult your pediatrician.

Special Concerns
Important elements of treatment for high cholesterol include proper diet, weight loss, regular moderate exercise, and avoidance of certain medications that may increase cholesterol levels. Because atorvastatin has potential side effects, it is important that you maintain a recommended healthy diet and cooperate with other treatments your doctor may suggest.

Overdose Symptoms
An overdose of atorvastatin is unlikely.

What to Do
Emergency instructions not applicable.

Drug Interactions
Consult your doctor if you are taking cyclosporine, gemfibrozil, niacin, antibiotics, especially erythromycin, or medications for fungus infections. All of these drugs may increase the risk of myositis (muscle inflammation) when taken with atorvastatin and may lead to kidney failure.

Food Interactions
No known food interactions.

Disease Interactions
Consult your doctor if you have any of the following problems: liver, kidney, or muscle disease, or a medical history involving organ transplant or recent surgery.

Date Published: 04/13/2005
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