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Medical and Pharmacy Editor:

Brand Name: Lipitor

Generic Name: atorvastatin

Drug Class: Lipid-Lowering Agents, Statins; HMG-CoA Reductase Inhibitors

What Is Atorvastatin (Lipitor) and How Does It Work?

Atorvastatin (Lipitor) is a medication prescribed by a doctor to lower cholesterol in people who have been diagnosed with high cholesterol (high levels of cholesterol in the blood). Doctors diagnose high cholesterol through a simple blood test. Cholesterol (and triglycerides) are fats that are made in your body. While some cholesterol is necessary for the body, too much cholesterol is dangerous to your health. Cholesterol, specifically, is made in the liver. Lowering "bad" cholesterol and triglycerides and raising "good" cholesterol decreases the risk of heart disease and helps prevent strokes and heart attacks This drug can also lower the risk for heart attack or stroke in patients with diabetes.

Note: Some research has shown a possible relationship between the use of statins and risk of diabetes, however, the risk of developing diabetes from the use of statin is very small.

About Cholesterol and Statins

This medication is used along with a proper diet to help people lower "bad" cholesterol and fats (such as LDL(low-density lipoprotein), triglycerides) and raise "good" cholesterol (HDL) in the blood. It belongs to a group of drugs known as "statins." Statins (also HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors) like this medication work by reducing the amount of cholesterol found in the blood.

Statins are safe medication for most people. It is important to note that statins are not recommended for pregnant patients or people with active or chronic liver disease. Also, statins can cause serious muscle problems. Some statins interact negatively with other drugs, so it is important that your doctor knows all the medicines that you are taking. If you have problems (such as pain or other symptoms) with one particular prescription statin, you may have fewer side effects with an alternative statin drug. Your doctor may prescribe an alternative medication to see if you feel better or notice a difference. Doctors commonly prescribe statins like Lipitor because of their ability to lower cholesterol levels and risks of cardiovascular events. Patients should closely follow the instructions included on the prescription label to ensure effectiveness of the medicine. Due to changes and updates, patients should read the health information that accompanies this medicine each and every time this prescription is filled.

In addition to eating a proper diet for optimal health (such as a low cholesterol and low fat diet), there are other lifestyle changes that people can make that may help this medication work better. These include exercising, weight loss, and stopping smoking. Consult your doctor for more details and medical information about this drug and for medical advice about your health while taking this drug. This medication is only available by prescription.

Atorvastatin is available under the following different brand names: Lipitor.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/14/2017

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