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What should I know before taking atorvastatin?

Find out if atorvastatin and alcohol is OK, why atorvastatin and grapefruit is not OK and atorvastatin side effects to report to your doctor.

© Sam Edwards - Getty Images

Medically reviewed by Dr Roger Henderson, By Helen Marshall, BPharm, MRPharmS | Netdoctor

Atorvastatin is a statin medicine used to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Here, we answer the most common questions about takingAtorvastatin, including whether you need to avoid certain foods or drinks, what side effects to expect and if you can drive while using the medication:

Do I need to avoid any food or drinks while taking atorvastatin?

Avoid drinking grapefruit juice or eating grapefruit while taking atorvastatin. This is because grapefruit can affect the metabolism of atorvastatin and could increase the amount of the medicine in your blood, thus increasing the risk of side effects.

Taking atorvastatin is not a substitute for eating a healthy, balanced diet. It is important that you continue to follow a cholesterol-lowering diet and do regular exercise while you are taking atorvastatin. You can get advice from your doctor or pharmacist.

Can I drink alcohol while taking atorvastatin?

Atorvastatin and alcohol may increase the risk of liver problems or side effects on the muscles (see below), so you should avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol while taking atorvastatin.

Can I drive while taking atorvastatin?

Yes - atorvastatin is very unlikely to affect your ability to drive.

What are the side effects of atorvastatin?

Atorvastatin may rarely have side effects on the muscles that may progress to cause kidney problems. For this reason you should inform your doctor immediately if you experience any muscular symptoms while taking atorvastatin, for example muscle pain, tenderness, cramps, or weakness, particularly if you also have a fever or feel generally unwell. Your doctor may need to check for side effects on the muscles by taking a blood test to measure the level of a compound called creatinine kinase in your blood. If this is the case, the test should not be done following strenuous exercise.

Your doctor will want you to have blood tests to monitor your liver function before starting treatment and regularly throughout treatment with atorvastatin. Consult your doctor promptly if you develop unexplained itching, yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes (jaundice), unusually dark urine, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pains, loss of appetite or flu-like symptoms while taking atorvastatin, as these could be signs of a liver problem.

Statins may very rarely be associated with a type of lung disease. You should consult your doctor if you experience shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, a non-productive cough and deterioration in your general health (eg weight loss, fever, fatigue) while taking atorvastatin.

Can Atorvastatin be taken when pregnant?

Atorvastatin should not be used during pregnancy because it may be harmful to a developing baby. Women who could get pregnant should use an effective method of contraception to prevent pregnancy both while taking atorvastatin and for at least one month after stopping treatment.

Talk to your doctor straight away if you think you could be pregnant while taking atorvastatin, or if you want to try for a baby. It's recommended that statins are stopped three months before trying to get pregnant.

See more at Netdoctor

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dearJulius.com United Kingdom: What should I know before taking atorvastatin?
What should I know before taking atorvastatin?
Find out if atorvastatin and alcohol is OK, why atorvastatin and grapefruit is not OK and atorvastatin side effects to report to your doctor.
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