Lipitor
Last Edited: April 20th, 2012

Coupons for Lipitor

Lipitor, atorvastatin in generic form, belongs to the group of synthetic medications commonly known as statins. Physicians often prescribe the medication in combination with alterations in diet and increased exercise, in attempts at lowering patient’s blood cholesterol. By reducing LDL levels in the blood, the medication reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Cholesterol and Lipitor

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles travel through the bloodstream and damage the delicate lining of blood vessels. When damage occurs, white blood cells and chemical mediators adhere to the lining and produce an inflammatory response. White cells known as microphages devour the LDL particles, which produces foamy type cells containing lipids. Over time, this conglomeration of cells and substances becomes a plaque. Plaques may grow larger, causing blockages, or they may rupture and travel through the blood. Plaques often travel to and lodge in the blood vessels of the brain or the heart, causing blockages that produce strokes or heart attacks. Statin medications, that include Lipitor, inhibit LDL formation and LDL introduction into the blood.

Physicians classify Lipitor as an HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor. HMG-CoA reductase is an enzyme the liver contains, which is essential to cholesterol formation. Inhibiting the enzyme decreases the production of low-density lipoproteins (LDL). The liver cells also absorb existing LDL cholesterol instead of passing the proteins into the blood. Scientific studies additionally indicate that Lipitor reduces triglyceride levels and slightly increases high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Commonly referred to as “good cholesterol,” HDL helps regulate LDL levels in the blood.

Laboratory reports also suggest that Lipitor reduces inflammation and stabilizes existing blood vessel plaques. Lipitor’s effectiveness depends on the patient’s LDL blood levels, diet and amount of daily exercise. Researchers believe that statins produce better results in some patients compared to others because of genetic factors. Overall, Lipitor may reduce LDL levels by anywhere from 20 to 60 percent. The medication may reduce triglycerides from 10 to 35 percent and increase HDL levels by 5 to 15 percent.

Lipitor Dosage

Patients may take anywhere from 10 milligrams to 80 milligrams of Lipitor daily. Initially, physicians often prescribe dosages ranging from 10 to 20 milligrams per day. Depending on the severity of LDL levels, the age and other risk factors of the patient, physicians might prescribe an initial dose of 40 milligrams everyday. Physicians generally recommend taking the medication once a day, just before bedtime.

Drug and Food Interactions

Though the majority of foods do not inhibit the body from absorbing Lipitor, grapefruit juice, niacin and vitamin D increase blood levels of the medication. This increases the likelihood of experiencing side effects. Increased blood levels of the drug may produce varying symptoms of a condition known as myopathy. Patients having myopathy experience a wide range of symptoms that include muscle weakness, cramping or spasms. In rare cases, patients might also develop a condition called rhabdomyolysis, which causes muscle deterioration.

Patients should always inform physicians as to the complete list of current medications. Certain medications, that include the anti-fungal preparation itraconazole, interfere with enzymes that break down Lipitor, which increases blood levels of the formulation. Other medications, that include the anti-seizure preparation phenytoin, decrease blood levels of the drug, which reduces the medication’s effectiveness. Lipitor may also react with medications, increasing their blood levels or reducing their effectiveness.

Lipitor Side Effects

Patients most commonly experience mild symptoms that include headaches, along with abdominal discomfort, constipation, diarrhea or nausea. Patients should consult with a physician if experiencing serious adverse reactions. More concerning symptoms may involve muscle pain, tenderness or weakness. Flu-like symptoms that accompany skin yellowing, nausea and darkened urine are also serious. Likewise, patients having chest pains, dizziness or swelling in the arms or legs must also report these problems.