Lipitor (Atorvastatin)

Lipitor (Atorvastatin)

Generic Name:Atorvastatin

Atorvastatin is the generic form of the brand name medicine Lipitor. It’s used together with a healthy lifestyle to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL, the “bad” cholesterol) and triglyceride (a type of fat) levels in the blood and raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL, the “good" cholesterol) levels.

This medicine is also given to lessen the risk of heart attack and stroke. It may also help a person with heart disease or someone at risk of developing heart disease.

Atorvastatin belongs to a class of drugs called statins. It works by slowing the production of cholesterol in your body.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved this medicine in 1996.

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What is Lipitor (Atorvastatin) used for?

  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Hyperlipoproteinemia Type IIa (Elevated LDL)
  • Hyperlipoproteinemia Type IIb (Elevated LDL + VLDL)
  • Hyperlipoproteinemia Type III (Elevated beta-VLDL + IDL)
  • Hyperlipoproteinemia Type IV (Elevated VLDL)
  • Homozygous Familial Hypercholesterolemia
  • Hypertriglyceridemia
  • Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease
  • Heterozygous Familial Hypercholesterolemia
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What is the most important information I should know about Lipitor (Atorvastatin)?

You should not use atorvastatin if you are allergic to it, or if you have liver disease.

Do not use if you are pregnant. This medicine can harm an unborn baby. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy. Stop taking this medicine and tell your doctor at once if you become pregnant.

Do not breastfeed while you are taking atorvastatin.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • liver problems;
  • muscle pain or weakness;
  • kidney disease;
  • diabetes;
  • a thyroid disorder; or
  • if you drink more than 2 alcoholic beverages daily.

Atorvastatin can cause the breakdown of muscle tissue, which can lead to kidney failure. This happens more often in women, in older adults, or people who have kidney disease or poorly controlled hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).

Atorvastatin is not approved for use by anyone younger than 10 years old.

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Side Effects

What are the side effects of Lipitor (Atorvastatin)?

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

In rare cases, atorvastatin can cause a condition that results in the breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue, leading to kidney failure. Call your doctor right away if you have unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness especially if you also have fever, unusual tiredness, and dark colored urine.

Also call your doctor at once if you have:

  • muscle weakness in your hips, shoulders, neck, and back;
  • trouble lifting your arms, trouble climbing or standing;
  • liver problems--upper stomach pain, weakness, tired feeling, loss of appetite, dark urine, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); or
  • kidney problems--little or no urinating, swelling in your feet or ankles, feeling tired or short of breath.

Common side effects may include:

  • joint pain;
  • stuffy nose, sore throat;
  • diarrhea; or
  • pain in your arms or legs.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

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Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

Can I take Lipitor (Atorvastatin) if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?

Do not use if you are pregnant. This medicine can harm an unborn baby. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy. Stop taking this medicine and tell your doctor at once if you become pregnant.

Do not breastfeed while you are taking atorvastatin.

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What drugs and food should I avoid while taking Lipitor (Atorvastatin)?

Avoid eating foods high in fat or cholesterol, or atorvastatin will not be as effective.

Avoid drinking alcohol. It can raise triglyceride levels and may increase your risk of liver damage.

Grapefruit may interact with atorvastatin and lead to unwanted side effects. Avoid drinking more than 1 liter of grapefruit juice while taking atorvastatin.

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Dosage Guidelines & Tips

How to take Lipitor (Atorvastatin)?

Use Lipitor (Atorvastatin) exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor. Do not use in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose. Use the medicine exactly as directed.

Take the medicine at the same time each day, with or without food.

Do not break an atorvastatin tablet before taking it, unless your doctor has told you to.

You may need to stop using atorvastatin for a short time if you have:

  • uncontrolled seizures;
  • an electrolyte imbalance (such as high or low potassium levels in your blood);
  • severely low blood pressure;
  • a severe infection or illness; or
  • surgery or a medical emergency.

It may take up to 2 weeks before your cholesterol levels improve, and you may need frequent blood tests. Even if you have no symptoms, tests can help your doctor determine if this medicine is effective.

Atorvastatin is only part of a complete treatment program that may also include diet, exercise, and weight control. Follow your doctor's instructions very closely.

Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light.

What should I do if I missed a dose of Lipitor (Atorvastatin)?

Use the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if you are more than 12 hours late for the dose. Do not use two doses at one time.

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Overdose Signs

What happens if I overdose on Lipitor (Atorvastatin)?

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on: Lipitor (Atorvastatin),  call your doctor or the Poison Control center
(800) 222-1222
If someone collapses or isn't breathing after taking Lipitor (Atorvastatin), call 911
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What to Expect

You should notice a drop in your cholesterol levels within four weeks of taking atorvastatin.

Many people have to be on atorvastatin for the rest of their lives. You’ll only experience the benefits while you take this medicine. Your cholesterol levels may go back up if you stop using atorvastatin.

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Additional Dosage Information

Your dose of atorvastatin will depend on your age, your medical condition, and other factors.

A typical starting dose is 10 to 20 milligrams, once a day. Your doctor may gradually increase this dose.

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Secondary Uses

Atorvastatin has been studied or used to treat other medical conditions that it’s not approved for. These include immune and inflammatory disorders (such as rheumatoid arthritis) and certain parasitic diseases (such as malaria). Additionally, some early research has shown atorvastatin may play a role in preventing or treating certain cancers.

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Color: white

Shape: elliptical

Imprint: PD 155, 10

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Color: white

Shape: elliptical

Form: film coated

Imprint: PD 156, 20

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Shape: oval

Imprint: PD 157, 40

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Medical Disclaimer

Drugs A-Z provides drug information from Everyday Health and our partners, as well as ratings from our members, all in one place. Cerner Multum™ provides the data within some of the Overview, Uses, Warnings, Side Effects, Pregnancy, Interactions, Dosage, Overdose, and Images sections. The information within all other sections is proprietary to Everyday Health.