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
Unknown incidence: 
• 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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Of course, this video does 
not provide medical advice,  
and is intended for informational purposes only.
Do not consider this as a substitute 
for professional medical advice,  
diagnosis or treatment.
Don’t ignore professional 
medical advice in seeking  
treatment because of something you have heard here
If you believe you may have a medical emergency, 
immediately call your doctor or ambulance service.

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