Lipitor is a prescription medication that’s used in certain situations along with a balanced diet to:
- Some children have lower cholesterol levels.
- High cholesterol can cause problems with the heart and blood vessels in adults.
- The need for certain heart surgeries in adults should be reduced.
For more details on these uses, see the “What is Lipitor used for?” section below.
Lipitor contains the active ingredient atorvastatin. An active ingredient is what makes a drug work. Atorvastatin is also available as a generic drug.
Lipitor comes as a tablet that you swallow, and you usually take it once per day. Lipitor is classified as a statin. These drugs help lower cholesterol levels in your body.
Lipitor has side effects, and there are frequently asked questions.
Lipitor may cause mild or serious side effects. Lipitor may cause some side effects. All possible side effects are not included in these lists.
Side effects of a drug can depend on other factors.
- Your age.
- You have other health conditions.
- You take other drugs.
The doctor or the pharmacy can tell you more about the side effects of Lipitor. They can suggest ways to reduce side effects.
Mild side effects
Here’s a short list of some of the mild side effects that Lipitor can cause. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or read Lipitor’s prescribing information.
Lipitor has had some mild side effects.
- Urinary tract infections are caused by infections in the urinary tract.
- There is pain in your hands or feet.
- The common cold is a respiratory infections.
The side effects of many drugs can be gone in a few days. If they become intolerable, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
The side effect focus section gives more information about this side effect.
Serious side effects
Lipitor can cause serious side effects, but they are not common. If you have serious side effects from Lipitor, you should call your doctor. If you think you have a medical emergency, you should call the emergency number.
Lipitor has been reported to have serious side effects.
- abnormal results of liver function tests, which could be a sign of liver damage
- The pain in the muscles is severe.
- allergic reaction*
The side effect focus section gives more information about this side effect.
Side effect focus
Lipitor may cause some side effects.
Muscle pain and joint pain
Some people may experience pain in their muscles or joints while taking Lipitor. In studies, mild muscle and joint pain were common side effects.
Lipitor will likely not cause any muscle pain or tenderness. Lipitor can cause muscle weakness and pain. These could be symptoms of more serious conditions.
- For more information, see the below information.
- immune-mediated necrotizing myopathy (a rare condition in which your immune system attacks your muscles and breaks them down)
What can help?
Increasing exercise intensity and frequency at a slow and steady pace can help reduce joint and muscle pain.
If you have a mild ache in your muscles or joints, your doctor may lower your Lipitor dose. They may prescribe a different drug to treat your condition.
If you have unexplained muscle pain while taking Lipitor, call your doctor. They may want you to stop taking the drug while they check for more severe muscle damage. If you stop taking Lipitor, you will no longer have pain.
In some cases, Lipitor can cause rhabdomyolysis. This is a rare but serious side effect of statins, including Lipitor.
Rhabdomyolysis occurs when your body starts breaking down skeletal muscle tissues. As these tissues break down, they are released into your body, and your kidneys filter them. These tissues are often too much for the kidneys to filter and can lead to kidney damage.
In rare cases, rhabdomyolysis may cause permanent kidney damage (including kidney failure) and can even be fatal. If you have concerns about your risk of rhabdomyolysis during your Lipitor treatment, talk with your doctor.
There are cases of rhabdomyolysis that may not cause any noticeable symptoms. But symptoms to watch for include:
- urine that is brown, red, or cola-colored
- It may be hard to move your muscles because of severe muscle pain and weakness.
What can help?
There are a few steps you can take to preventrhabdomyolysis.
- Staying hydrated.
- “Don’t increase how often you work out or the intensity of your exercise too quickly.”
- talking with your doctor or pharmacist before starting any dietary supplements, including those with caffeine, creatine, and ephedra
If you experience any of the symptoms, you should seek medical care. This condition can cause damage to your kidneys.
Some people taking Lipitor may experience diarrhea. This was one of Lipitor’s most common side effects reported in studies. Diarrhea is typically worse when you first start taking Lipitor, and it usually gets better after taking the drug for a few days.
There are symptoms of the disease.
- stools are watery
- There is belly pain.
- It was bloated.
- weight loss
- There is a high degree of fever.
- The body feels sore or cold.
What can help?
If you have a problem with your Lipitor treatment, you should drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
Some people may have an allergic reaction to Lipitor. While allergic reaction wasn’t reported in clinical studies of Lipitor, it can still happen.
A mild allergic reaction can include some symptoms.
- There is a skin rash.
- It is itchy.
- flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)
A more severe allergic reaction is not uncommon. A severe allergic reaction can cause swelling under your skin, which can be seen in your eyes, lips, hands, and feet. They can include swelling of your mouth, throat, and tongue, which can cause trouble breathing.
If you have an allergic reaction to Lipitor, call your doctor. If you think you have a medical emergency, call the emergency number.
Your doctor will tell you the correct Lipitor dose.
Below are commonly used dosages, but always take the dosage your doctor prescribes.
Form and strengths
Lipitor is a pill that you swallow. It is available in four strengths: 10, 20, 40, and 80.
“The lowest dose of Lipitor is 10. The Lipitor’s daily dose is 10 to 80 percent of its recommended daily dose. The amount of the drug you take depends on the condition you are treating.”
The usual recommended dose for adults is 10 to 80. If you have a condition that requires a dose of 10 to 20 percent, you may have your dose increased during your treatment.
The recommended amount of cholesterol lowering is 10 to 20 percent.
Questions about Lipitor’s dosage
“Some questions about Lipitor’s dosage are listed below.”
- What if I miss a dose of Lipitor? If you miss a dose of Lipitor, take it as soon as you remember. But if it’s been more than 12 hours since you were supposed to take the dose, skip that dose and take your next dose at its usual time. You should not take two doses at once to make up for a missed dose. Doing so can raise your risk of side effects from the drug.
- Will I need to use Lipitor long term? Lipitor is meant to be a long-term treatment. If you and your doctor determine that Lipitor is safe and effective for you, you’ll likely take it long term.
- How long does Lipitor take to work? Lipitor starts working as soon as you take a dose. When taken consistently, most people have improvements in their cholesterol within 2 to 4 weeks. You may not feel Lipitor working in your body, but your doctor will monitor your cholesterol levels by ordering certain lab tests during your treatment.
Below are answers to some questions.
Does Lipitor cause weight loss, weight gain, diabetes, memory loss, ED, tiredness, or headaches?
No, none of these were reported as side effects in studies of Lipitor.
Keep in mind that Lipitor is prescribed along with a balanced diet. Some people may experience weight loss while taking Lipitor if they make certain changes to their diet.
Other statins used to treat high cholesterol may cause diabetes or memory problems. These side effects weren’t reported in studies of Lipitor. But high blood sugar levels have been reported as a side effect of Lipitor since the drug became available on the market. (Diabetes is a disease that causes high blood sugar.)
Because Lipitor treats high cholesterol, it may actually help reduce symptoms of erectile dysfunction (ED). See this article to learn more about the link between ED and high cholesterol.
“Lipitor’s side effects may cause tiredness. The drug has a side effect on the body.”
Headache isn’t a side effect of Lipitor, but it could be a symptom of other conditions, such as high blood pressure.
If you have any concerns about the side effects of Lipitor, you should talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Is Lipitor a blood thinner or a beta-blocker? And does it lower blood pressure?
Beta-blockers help manage high blood pressure, and blood thinners help prevent blood clots. Some people taking Lipitor may also need to take beta-blockers or blood thinners, depending on their other health conditions.
If you are interested in taking Lipitor, you should talk to your doctor about the risks of taking other drugs with it.
Is Lipitor considered a safe medication? Why might some people think it’s bad for you?
Lipitor is a drug that most people like to take. It has been used to treat a number of conditions for more than 20 years.
Lipitor may cause certain side effects, which could make some people think taking the drug is too risky. But the most common side effects reported in studies were mild. Examples of these side effects include diarrhea, joint and muscle pain, sore throat, and upper respiratory infection.
Some serious side effects may occur with Lipitor, but they’re not common. For example, in rare cases, Lipitor may cause severe muscle pain. (To learn more about possible side effects, see “What are Lipitor’s side effects?” above.)
If you have questions about the safety of Lipitor, you can talk to your doctor or the pharmacy.
Will Lipitor cause different side effects in men vs. women?
There were no differences in Lipitor side effects between males and females.
But certain side effects of Lipitor are specific to females who can become pregnant. These are related to taking Lipitor during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. To learn more, see “Pregnancy and breastfeeding” under the “What should be considered before taking Lipitor?” section below.
* In this article, we use the terms “males” and “females” to refer to someone’s sex assigned at birth. For information about the difference between sex and gender, see this article.
How does Lipitor work? What’s its half-life, and how long does it stay in your system?
Lipitor belongs to a group of medications called statins. These drugs reduce the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in your body. LDL cholesterol is also known as “bad” cholesterol, and too much of it in your body can lead to serious health problems.
Statins reduce LDL cholesterol by suppressing a certain enzyme in the liver that’s responsible for LDL production. This helps prevent heart problems, such as coronary heart disease, chest pain, stroke, and heart attack.
Lipitor stays in your system for about 3 days. This is based on Lipitor’s half-life, which is around 14 hours. The
What should I know about Lipitor’s alternative drug Livalo?
Lipitor and Livalo are both statins, which help lower cholesterol levels in your body.
Lipitor contains the active ingredient atorvastatin, while Livalo contains pitavastatin. (An active ingredient is what makes a drug work.) To learn more about Livalo, check out this article. You can ask your doctor if one of these drugs may be right for you.
Will I have side effects after stopping Lipitor?
“Side effects should not be caused by ending your Lipitor treatment. If you stop taking Lipitor and don’t replace it with a different treatment, your cholesterol may increase again. This could cause serious heart problems.”
If you want to stop taking Lipitor, you should talk to your doctor. They can tell you if you should stop taking Lipitor or if you should start taking a new drug. Unless your doctor recommends it, you should not stop taking Lipitor.
Lipitor is a prescription medication that’s used along with a balanced diet to:
- High cholesterol can cause problems with the heart and blood vessels in adults. with any of the following conditions:
- coronary heart disease (CHD) or There are risk factors for CHD., such as high blood pressure and smoking
- type 2 diabetes and There are risk factors for CHD.
- The need for certain heart surgeries in adults should be reduced. with either:
- CHD, or
- There are risk factors for CHD.
- Adults with certain forms of high cholesterol can have lower cholesterol levels.
- Children with a genetic condition that causes hypercholesterolemia can have lower cholesterol.
Lipitor belongs to a group of medications called statins. These drugs reduce the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol, in your body. This helps prevent heart problems, such as coronary heart disease, chest pain, stroke, and heart attack.
Lipitor and Crestor both contain active ingredients. An active ingredient is what makes a drug work.
If you’d like to know more about Lipitor and Crestor, check out this article. Also, talk with your doctor for more information about how these drugs are alike and different.
When considering Lipitor treatment, it is important to have a discussion with your doctor about your health, any medical conditions you may have, and any drugs you take.
Taking a medication with certain vaccines, foods, and other things can affect how the medication works. These effects are called interactions.
Before taking Lipitor, you should tell your doctor about all your medication. You should describe any vitamins, herbs, or supplements you use. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you about any interactions that may occur with Lipitor.
Interactions with drugs or supplements
Lipitor can interact with a lot of drugs. These include:
- gemfibrozil (Lopid) and other fibrates (which help lower triglycerides levels)
- certain antifungals, antibiotics, and antiviral drugs
- the immunosuppressant drug cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral)
- the cholesterol medication niacin (Niacor)
- the gout drug colchicine (Colcrys, Mitigare)
- the tuberculosis drug rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane)
- the heart drug digoxin (Lanoxin)
- Birth control pills are used.
Some drugs that may interact with Lipitor are not on this list. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about the interactions that may occur when taking Lipitor.
There are other interactions that could occur with Lipitor.
Lipitor and a fruit.
You should not consume more than 1.2 liters of juice from the grapefruit each day while taking Lipitor. If you do that, you could raise your risk of side effects from Lipitor.
If you have questions about consuming grapefruit or grapefruit juice during your treatment, talk with your doctor.
If you have a medical condition that affects your health, it may be worth looking into the pros and cons of Lipitor. Before you take Lipitor, talk to your doctor about your health history. The factors to consider are listed below.
- Liver disease. Lipitor is contraindicated in people with liver disease. (A contraindication is a factor or condition that could prevent your doctor from prescribing a drug due to risk of harm.) People who have liver disease or have had it in the past may have a higher risk of side effects from Lipitor. Due to this risk, doctors typically will not prescribe Lipitor. Before taking Lipitor, talk with your doctor if you have liver disease.
- Kidney disease. Lipitor may cause muscle pain and weakness. If you have kidney disease, you may have a higher risk of these side effects. Talk with your doctor about whether Lipitor is safe for you.
- Uncontrolled hypothyroidism. Lipitor may cause muscle pain and weakness. If you have an underactive thyroid that’s not well managed by medication, you may have a higher risk of this side effect. Before taking Lipitor, be sure to tell your doctor about any thyroid conditions you have.
- A recent stroke or ministroke. In rare cases, Lipitor may cause hemorrhagic stroke. If you’ve had a stroke or ministroke within the past 6 months, Lipitor may raise your risk of this side effect. Before starting treatment with Lipitor, talk with your doctor if you’ve had a stroke.
- Diabetes or high blood sugar. In rare cases, Lipitor may cause high blood sugar. If you have diabetes or high blood sugar, taking Lipitor could worsen these conditions. Talk with your doctor about whether Lipitor is a safe treatment option for you.
- Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Lipitor or any of its ingredients, your doctor will likely not prescribe Lipitor. Ask your doctor what other medications are better options for you.
Lipitor and alcohol
There are no known interactions between Lipitor and alcohol. But drinking large amounts of alcohol while taking Lipitor can raise your risk of liver damage.
If you have more than two alcoholic drinks per day, tell your doctor. They can tell you if Lipitor is safe.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
It is not safe to take Lipitor during pregnancies or breastfeeding. See below for more.
If you are able to become pregnant, you should use birth control while taking Lipitor. But it’s important to note that Lipitor can make certain Birth control pills are used. less effective. Your doctor can recommend a birth control option that won’t interact with Lipitor.
If you become pregnant while taking Lipitor, you should call your doctor immediately. Your doctor can prescribe a cholesterol medication that is safe to use during your pregnancies.
If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you should talk to your doctor about your treatment options.
It is not known if the Lipitor enters breast milk. Lipitor can cause serious side effects in a child who is breastfed, so you should not take it.
Talk to your doctor about nursing considerations if you are currently breastfeeding or planning to breastfeeding.
“Your doctor will explain how to take Lipitor. They will explain how much to take and how often. Follow your doctor’s instructions.”
Lipitor is a pill that you swallow. You will usually take it once a day. You should take Lipitor at the same time each day. This helps keep the drug in your body in a consistent level.
Accessible medication containers and labels
“If you can’t read the label on your prescription, tell your doctor or pharmacist. Some pharmacies may provide medication labels.”
- Have a large print.
- Use the visual aids.
- You can use a code on a phone to change the text into audio.
“If your current pharmacy doesn’t offer these options, your doctor or pharmacist may be able to recommend a new pharmacy.”
“If you have trouble opening your bottles, please let your doctor know. They may be able to put Lipitor in a container. The drug’s container may be easier to open with the help of your pharmacist.”
Taking Lipitor with other drugs
Depending on the condition you are taking Lipitor for, your doctor may prescribe it on its own or with other drugs.
Lipitor is a drug that you can take to treat high cholesterol.
- bile acid-binding resins, such as:
- cholestyramine is a drug.
- colestipol is a word that means “Colestid.”
- colesevelam (Welchol)
- ezetimibe (Zetia)
- injectable medications, such as:
Questions about taking Lipitor
Some questions about taking Lipitor are below.
- Can Lipitor be chewed, crushed, or split? No, you should not crush, split, or chew Lipitor tablets. You should swallow Lipitor tablets whole. If you have trouble swallowing pills, you can find some helpful tips here.
- Should I take Lipitor with food? You can take Lipitor with or without food.
- Is there a best time to take Lipitor? You can take Lipitor at any time of day. But you should try to take it at the same time every day to keep a consistent level of the drug in your body.
- Can I take Lipitor at night? You can take Lipitor at any time of day, including at night. But as discussed above, you should try to take it at the same time each day.
Questions for your doctor
You may have questions about your treatment. Discuss your concerns with your doctor.
Here are a few tips that might help you.
- Before your appointment, write down questions such as:
- How will Lipitor affect me?
- Bring someone with you to your appointment to make you feel more comfortable.
- “If you don’t understand something, ask your doctor to explain it.”
“Your doctor and other healthcare professionals are available to help you. They want you to get the best care possible. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or give feedback on your treatment”
There are many factors that affect the cost of prescription drugs. What your insurance plan covers is one of the factors.
Lipitor is available as the generic drug atorvastatin. Generics usually cost less than brand-name drugs. Talk with your doctor if you’d like to know about taking atorvastatin.
If you have questions about how to pay for your prescription, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also visit the Lipitor manufacturer’s website to see if they have support options.
You can also check out this article to learn more about saving money on prescriptions.
Lipitor and Zocor have some similarities.
Both drugs belong to a group of medications called statins, which lower cholesterol levels in your body. But Lipitor and Zocor have different active ingredients. (An active ingredient is what makes a drug work.) Lipitor contains atorvastatin, and Zocor contains simvastatin.
If you’d like to read more about these drugs, see this detailed comparison. Also, ask your doctor if one of them may be right for you.
Lipitor and pravastatin both belong to a group of drugs called statins. Statins help lower cholesterol. Lipitor contains the active ingredient atorvastatin, and Zocor contains simvastatin. (An active ingredient is what makes a drug work.)
To see a side-by-side comparison of these medications, check out this article. And talk with your doctor to learn more about Lipitor and pravastatin.
You should not take more Lipitor than your doctor prescribes. Side effects can be serious if you use more than this.
What to do in case you take too much Lipitor
Call your doctor if you think you’ve taken too much Lipitor. You can also call 800-222-1222 to reach the American Association of Poison Control Centers or use its online resource. But if you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number. Or go to the nearest emergency room.
If you want to learn more about Lipitor, you should talk to your doctor or pharmacist. They can answer questions about the drug. You may want to ask your doctor or pharmacist some questions.
- Do I have a higher risk for side effects than other people taking Lipitor?
- Are there other ways I could manage my cholesterol without medication?
- Is CoQ10 an effective alternative for lowering my cholesterol?
- How can I learn more about keeping my heart healthy?
- What are my treatment options if I have a baby?
You can also sign up to receive Healthline’s heart health newsletter for tips on managing your condition, weekly updates, and more.
Will I have to take cholesterol medication for the rest of my life?
Lipitor is a medication that can be used to treat high cholesterol. If you take Lipitor for a hereditary disease, you will likely need treatment throughout your life.
If you make lifestyle changes, your need for Lipitor or other cholesterol medications could change. You may try.
- eating a balanced diet with more fiber, fewer starchy foods (such as breads and sweets), and less saturated fat
- exercising at least 150 minutes per week (or about 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week)
- quitting smoking
- drinking less.
You can talk to your doctor about lifestyle changes that might be right for you. They can give you resources to help you make those changes.
If you have questions about how long you need to use Lipitor, talk to your doctor. Unless your doctor recommends it, you should not stop taking Lipitor.
The Healthline Pharmacist TeamAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.