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What LIPITOR is used for
Lipitor is used to lower high cholesterol levels.
Lipitor is also used to help reduce the risk of having a heart attack or stroke in people who have high blood pressure and coronary heart disease (CHD) or who are at risk of CHD. Examples of risk factors for CHD include diabetes, a history of stroke, or small blood vessel disease.
How Lipitor works
Lipitor belongs to a group of medicines called HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors. It works by reducing the amount of cholesterol made by the liver. Lipitor reduces the ‘bad’ cholesterol and can raise the ‘good’ cholesterol. Lipitor also helps to protect you from a heart attack or stroke.
Ask your doctor if you have any questions about why Lipitor has been prescribed for you.Your doctor may have prescribed it for another reason.
Lipitor is not addictive.
This medicine is available only with a doctor’s prescription.
Before you take LIPITOR
When you must not take it
Do not take Lipitor if you have an allergy to:
- any medicine containing atorvastatin
- any of the ingredients listed at the end of this leaflet.
Some of the symptoms of an allergic reaction may include:
- shortness of breath
- wheezing or difficulty breathing
- swelling of the face, lips, tongue or other parts of the body
- rash, itching or hives on the skin.
Do not take Lipitor if you have active liver disease.
Do not take this medicine if you are pregnant or intend to become pregnant.
If you are a woman of child-bearing age and are taking this medicine, use a proven method of birth control to avoid pregnancy. The medicine may affect your developing baby if you take it during pregnancy.
Do not breast-feed if you are taking this medicine. The active ingredient in Lipitor may pass into breast milk and affect your baby.
Do not take Lipitor if you are taking the antibiotic fusidic acid which is used to treat infections.
Do not take this medicine after the expiry date printed on the pack or if the packaging is torn or shows signs of tampering. If it has expired or is damaged, return it to your pharmacist for disposal.
If you are not sure whether to start taking Lipitor, talk to your doctor.
Before you start to take it
Your doctor will ask you to have your liver function tested before you start to take Lipitor.
Tell your doctor if you have allergies to any other medicines, foods, preservatives or dyes.
Tell your doctor if you have or have had any of the following medical conditions:
- liver problems
- kidney problems
- muscle pain, tenderness or weakness from other medicines used to treat high cholesterol or triglycerides
- a type of stroke called a haemorrhagic stroke or a type of stroke called a lacunar stroke
If you have had one of these strokes before, this medicine may increase the risk of you having a haemorrhagic stroke
- breathing problems.
Tell your doctor if you drink alcohol regularly.
If you have not told your doctor about any of the above, tell him/her before you start taking Lipitor.
Taking other medicines
Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any other medicines, including:
- all prescription medicines
- all medicines, vitamins, herbal supplements or natural therapies you buy without a prescription from a pharmacy, supermarket, naturopath or health food shop.
Some medicines may be affected by Lipitor or may affect how well it works. You may need different amounts of your medicines, or you may need to take different medicines. Your doctor will advise you.
Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any of the following:
- digoxin, a medicine used to treat some heart problems
- diltiazem, a medicine used to treat angina
- other medicines to treat high cholesterol or triglycerides
- antacids, medicines used to treat reflux or ulcers
- the antibiotics erythromycin, clarithromycin, rifampicin or fusidic acid
- phenytoin, a medicine used to treat epilepsy (seizures)
- oral contraceptives for birth control
- cyclosporin, a medicine used to suppress the immune system
- some medicines used to treat some fungal infections, such as itraconazole or ketoconazole
- protease inhibitors for the treatment of HIV infection and/or Hepatitis C, such as efavirenz, fosamprenavir, ritonavir and boceprevir
- spironolactone, a medicine used to treat high blood pressure and certain types of swelling
- vitamin B3
- colchicine, a medicine used to treat a disease with painful, swollen joints caused by uric acid crystals.
Your doctor and pharmacist have more information on medicines to be careful with or to avoid while taking Lipitor.
How to take LIPITOR
Follow all directions given to you by your doctor and pharmacist carefully. These directions may differ from the information contained in this leaflet.
Your doctor will discuss with you the need to be on a diet while you are taking Lipitor.
Follow your agreed diet plan carefully.
If you do not understand the instructions, ask your doctor or pharmacist for help.
How much to take
Your doctor will tell you how many tablets you need to take each day. This may depend on your condition and whether or not you are taking any other medicines.
The usual dose of Lipitor is between 10-80 mg taken once a day.
How to take it
Swallow the tablets whole with a full glass of water. Do not chew or crush the tablets.
When to take it
Lipitor can be taken at any time of the day. However, your dose of Lipitor should be taken at about the same time each day. Taking it at the same time each day will have the best effect. It will also help you to remember when to take it.
Lipitor can be taken with or without food.
How long to take it
Take Lipitor every day and continue taking it for as long as your doctor tells you. Lipitor helps to lower your levels of cholesterol, but it does not cure your condition. It is important to keep taking your medicine even if you feel well. If you stop taking Lipitor, your cholesterol levels may rise again.
If you forget to take it
If it is less than 12 hours before your next dose, skip the dose you missed and take your next dose when you are meant to. Otherwise, take it as soon as you remember, and then go back to taking your tablet as you would normally.
Do not take a double dose to make up for the dose that you missed. This may increase the chance of you getting an unwanted side effect.
If you are not sure what to do, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
If you have trouble remembering to take your tablets, ask your pharmacist for some hints.
While you are taking LIPITOR
Things you must do
Keep all of your doctor’s appointments so that your progress can be checked. Your doctor will ask you to have your liver function tested from time to time while you are taking Lipitor to make sure the medicine is working and to prevent unwanted side effects.
Your cholesterol and triglyceride levels also need to be checked regularly while you are taking this medicine.
If you become pregnant while you are taking Lipitor, stop taking it and contact your doctor immediately.
If you are about to be started on any new medicine, remind your doctor and pharmacist that you are taking Lipitor.
Tell any other doctors, dentists and pharmacists who treat you that you are taking this medicine.
Things you must not do
Do not give Lipitor to anyone else, even if they have the same condition as you.
Do not take Lipitor to treat any other complaints unless your doctor tells you to.
Things to be careful of
Avoid drinking large quantities of alcohol. Drinking large quantities of alcohol while taking Lipitor may increase your chance of getting liver problems.
Avoid drinking large quantities of grapefruit juice. Grapefruit juice contains one or more components that alter the metabolism of some medicines, including Lipitor.
Drinking very large quantities (over 1.2 litres) of grapefruit juice each day while taking Lipitor increases your chance of getting side effects.
Be careful driving or operating machinery until you know how Lipitor affects you. Lipitor generally does not cause any problems with your ability to drive a car or operate machinery. However, as with many other medicines, Lipitor may cause dizziness in some people.
If you feel dizzy, do not drive, operate machinery or do anything else that could be dangerous.
Things that would be helpful for your condition
Some self-help measures suggested below may assist your condition. Your doctor or pharmacist can give you more information about these measures.
- Weight: While you are taking Lipitor, you need to follow a diet plan agreed to with your doctor. This may include measures to lose some weight.
- Exercise: Regular exercise can help lower your cholesterol levels. It is important not to overdo it. Before commencing regular exercise you should consult your doctor who will suggest the most suitable exercise for you. If you experience any discomfort when exercising, see your doctor.
- Alcohol: Excessive alcohol intake can raise your cholesterol levels or affect your liver function, which could increase the chance of you getting unwanted side effects. Your doctor may discuss with you whether you should reduce the amount of alcohol you drink.
- Smoking: Smoking increases the risk of you suffering from heart problems. Your doctor may advise you to stop smoking.
Tell your doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible if you do not feel well while you are taking Lipitor. All medicines can have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time they are not. You may need medical treatment if you get some of the side effects.
Do not be alarmed by the list of possible side effects. You may not experience any of them.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist to answer any questions you may have.
Tell your doctor if…
Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you notice any of the following and they worry you:
- muscle and joint pain, muscle weakness
- constipation, diarrhoea
- stomach or belly pain, nausea (feeling sick)
- heartburn, indigestion or wind
- urine infection
- stuffy or runny nose
- nose bleeds
The above list includes the more common side effects of your medicine. They are usually mild and short-lived.
Tell your doctor as soon as possible if…
Tell your doctor as soon as possible if you notice any of the following:
- yellowing of the skin and eyes and dark coloured urine
- feeling weak and tired, excessively thirsty and passing more urine
- problems with breathing, including shortness of breath, persistent cough and fever.
These are serious side effects that may require medical attention. Serious side effects are rare.
Tell your doctor if you notice anything else that is making you feel unwell. Other side effects not listed above may also occur in some people.
After taking LIPITOR
Keep your tablets in the blister pack until it is time to take them. If you take the tablets out of the blister pack they may not keep well.
Keep Lipitor in a cool dry place where the temperature stays below 25°C.
Do not store Lipitor or any other medicine in the bathroom or near a sink. Do not leave your tablets in the car or on windowsills. Heat and dampness can destroy some medicines.
If your doctor tells you to stop taking Lipitor, or it has passed its expiry date, ask your pharmacist what to do with any tablets that are left over.