Atorvastatin – What All Patients Need to Know
Are you taking Atorvastatin? British trained GP Dr Jaunbocus tells you all you need to know about your medication. Atorvastatin works on the liver reducing the …
Hi, my name is Dr. Jaunbocus, I’m
a General Practitioner in the UK.
I would like to talk to you about
Atorvastatin. We will look at:
• What is Atorvastatin & why it is prescribed
• who can and who can’t take atorvastatin
• how you should take your medication
• the potential side effects with atorvastatin
• possible interactions with other
medications you may be taking.
What is Atorvastatin?
Atorvastatin is one of the
most commonly prescribed
medications. It belongs to a group
of medications known as statins.
Statins are used to help better
control your cholesterol levels,
which can reduce your risk of heart & blood
vessel disease, such as heart attacks and strokes.
Statins act on the liver reducing
the amount of cholesterol it makes.
Who Can take Atorvastatin
You may have been prescribed atorvastatin
where your doctor has identified that:
• Your blood cholesterol levels are
high, known as hyper-cholesterolaemia
• In-order to prevent heart disease,
such as heart attacks and strokes
o This may be for patients with
a family history of heart disease
o Patients with other medical conditions
such as Diabetes or Rheumatoid Arthritis
You may have been prescribed this
medication under its generic name
of Atorvastatin or a branded name such as Lipitor
Patients who may not be suitable for atorvastatin
Atorvastatin isn’t suitable for all patients, this
is a decision that should be made by your doctor.
Your doctor should be aware if:
• You may be pregnant,
or are currently breastfeeding
• Have experienced any allergic reactions to
any statins such as Simvastatin or rosuvastatin
• Underactive thyroid which have
not been already treated
• Liver disease & patients
who have a high alcohol consumption
• Patients with a personal or family
history of muscular disorders
• History of a stroke caused
by a bleed to the brain
• Patients with kidney
disease may require a smaller starting dose.
How you should take your medication
Your doctor will decide on what
dosage is suitable for you,
and this may change depending on how
well the medication works for you.
Usually, Atorvastatin is taken once
a day with doses ranging from 10-80mg
If you forget to take your daily dose,
wait until the following day when your next
dose is due. Do not double up your medication.
Statins usually take around 4 weeks to cause
a noticeable drop in your cholesterol levels.
After 3 months, you doctor might want to organize
a blood test to monitor you cholesterol le levels
and also your liver function.
Most people will continue taking
Atorvastatin for life. This is
because the beneficial effects will wear off
What are the side effects of Atorvastatin?
As with all medications, they have the potential
to affect different people in different ways.
It is important to realize that most patients
taking statins do not experience any side effects.
Common Side effects
experienced by patients include
• Lack of energy;
• Gastrointestinal side
effects such as Nausea, constipation; diarrhea
• flatulence; gastrointestinal discomfort;
• Dizziness, headache
• Muscle ache
• sleep disturbance
• thrombocytopenia – reduced level of platelets,
which may prolong the time it
takes to stop any bleeding.
• Hair loss
• Liver disturbance & inflammation of the pancreas
• Poor memory
• Altered sensation
• Skin reactions
• And, vomiting
Allergic reaction to Atorvastatin
• Muscle aching, weakness or cramping
• Numbness to peripheries
• Pain and swelling of tendons
• Cause or potentially worsen diabetes
• Cause depression
If you experience any of the listed side effects
it’s a good idea to get to discuss
these with your regular doctor.
You should stop taking Atorvastatin
and contact your doctor urgently
where you experience the following side effects:
Muscle aching, weakness or cramping,
which may indicate muscle breakdown or that
the medication is affecting the kidneys
Yellowing of the skin, and eyes can indicate
the medication is affecting your liver,
some patients may also notice lighter
coloring to their poo and darker wee.
Severe abdominal pain,
may be an indication of inflammation of
the pancreas also known as pancreatitis.
If you develop a cough, shortness of breath
this may indicate the medication is having
a negative effect on your lungs which may result
in a condition called interstitial lung disease.
An itchy hive like rash, facial swelling
or difficulty in breathing, may indicate an
allergic reaction. In these circumstances,
you must seek urgent medical assessment.
Interactions with other medications
Your doctor will also need to review your
other medication when commencing Atorvastatin.
Certain medications have the potential for
increasing the likelihood of side effects,
or influence how well your medications work.
You should consult with your doctor if
you are taking any of the following:
• Antibiotics or antifungal medications
• Warfarin, commonly used to
reducing your risk of clotting
• Certain blood pressure medications,
and some medications used to control
your heart rate such as amiodarone.
• Oral contraceptive medications,
statins may increase the effects
of these contraceptive medications
increasing ladies risks for side effect.
• Immunosuppressive medications, commonly used
for rheumatological conditions such as ciclosporin
• Colchicine, a medication
to prevent flares of gout
• Medications which may be used to treat blood
borne infections such as HIV and Hepatitis C.
It is still safe to consume Alcohol
whilst taking atorvastatin. However,
it is recommended to stay within the national
recommendations of alcohol consumption.
When used in moderation this should
not result in any detrimental effects.
Thank you for watching, we hope you
have found this information useful.
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and is intended for informational purposes only.
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