Just what is Lipitor and are there any dangerous side effects to what has become one of the top-selling medications in history?
Lipitor (atorvastatin) is a member of the statin class of drugs which are primarily used to treat patients who are having trouble keeping their cholesterol levels in check and exposing themselves to serious risk of heart attacks, strokes and other life-threatening health problems.
The medication is taken once day in oral tablet form, with or without food at the same time daily and it is recommended that it not be crushed or chewed by patients.
Patients are usually started with doses of 10 to 20 mg each day and the dosage may be increased up to 80 mg daily but not increased more than once every two to four weeks.
The human body contains good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. Lipitor works by blocking the cholesterol-producing enzyme in the liver to reduce the production of bad cholesterol, which can choke arteries and lead to heart attacks, strokes and other problems.
Although many patients see Lipitor as a panacea for their cholesterol issues physicians universally recommend that patients also incorporate physical exercise and a healthier diet into their treatment plans.
As with any medication there may be side effects, most commonly not severe such as headaches, gas, diarrhea or constipation and joint pains.
However, the Food and Drug Administration In a safety announcement issued to consumers and health care professionals in 2012 warned: “Based on clinical trial meta-analyses and epidemiological data from the published literature, information concerning an effect of statins on incident diabetes and increases in HbA1c and/or fasting plasma glucose was added to statin labels.”
The FDA said this means is that there may be an increased risk of developing diabetes while using Lipitor and other statin medications and the risk is serious enough that the FDA announced that the warning labels on these medications were being changed to reflect this danger.
Alcohol and grapefruit consumption should be carefully regulated when taking Lipitor. The consumption of more than two drinks a day may put patients at serious risk of developing liver problems and no more than one quart of grapefruit juice should be consumed per day while taking Lipitor.
In addition, women who are breast-feeding or pregnant should avoid using Lipitor because of the possibility of harming the fetus. Patients who are also being treated with anti-fungal medications and women using birth control pills should consult with their physicians about possible conflicts with Lipitor.
It is also important that anyone considering using Lipitor to treat their cholesterol problems inform their health care professional about any history of liver, kidney, or thyroid disease; diabetes; or seizures.
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