Atorvastatin

Pronounced (a tore’ va sta tin)
Brand Names:  Lipitor®

Why is Atorvastatin Prescribed?

Atorvastatin is used together with diet, weight loss, and exercise to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke and to decrease the chance that heart surgery will be needed in those who have heart disease or who are at risk of developing heart disease. Atorvastatin is also used to decrease the amount of fatty substances such as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (“bad cholesterol”) and triglycerides in the blood and to increase the amount of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (“good cholesterol”) in the blood.

How Does Atorvastatin Work?

Atorvastatin is in a class of medications called HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins). It works by slowing the production of cholesterol in the body to decrease the amount of cholesterol that may build up on the walls of the arteries and block blood flow to the heart, brain, and other parts of the body. Accumulation of cholesterol and fats along the walls of your arteries (a process known as atherosclerosis) decreases blood flow and, therefore, the oxygen supply to your heart, brain, and other parts of your body. Lowering your blood level of cholesterol and fats with atorvastatin has been shown to prevent heart disease, angina (chest pain), strokes, and heart attacks.
Older woman holding a weekly medication organizer that has an atorvastatin prescription

Common Side Effects of Atorvastatin

Atorvastatin may cause side effects. Tell your healthcare provider if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
  • Diarrhea
  • Heartburn
  • Gas
  • Joint pain
  • Forgetfulness or memory loss
  • Confusion
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately or seek emergency medical treatment:
  • Muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness
  • Lack of energy
  • Fever
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain in the upper right part of the stomach
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Dark colored urine
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • Hoarseness
Atorvastatin may cause other side effects. Contact your provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

More About Atorvastatin

When being prescribed any new medication, always inform your provider of all medications you are taking, including vitamins, minerals, and other dietary supplements, to avoid possible drug interactions.