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The Dangerous Side Effects of a Popular Cholesterol Medicine

Lipitor is indicated for the management of patients suffering from high cholesterol. Lipitor is dosed in tablets of 10, 20, 40 and 80 milligrams. It belongs within a group of medications called HMG CoA reductase inhibitors, which are referred to as “statins”.

Patients diagnosed with hyperlipidemia, or high cholesterol should not take Lipitor if the patient is pregnant or trying to become pregnant or if the patient is breast feeding. Atorvastatin is the main active ingredient in Lipitor and therefore if the person is allergic to the drug than they should not consume Lipitor. Lipitor can cause liver disease, and therefore if the patient has a history of liver disease than of course, the medication should be avoided.

The most common side effects of the medication are; constipation, gas, bloating and diarrhea, rashes, heartburn and vomiting. Statins have been known to have side effects, mainly on the digestive system.

Serious side effects have been reported, like liver disease – in patients who have been taking Lipitor for an extended period of time. In a substantial amount of patients severe liver disease occurred, which decreased the function of the liver putting the patient in harm. Liver function has been shown to increase after the medication has been stopped, although tests are inconclusive showing that the liver returns to normal function. In any patient taking Lipitor, regular monitoring is important through the means of liver function lab testing.

Signs of liver disease that patients should watch for include; fever, severe skin rashes including aching, blistering or peeling. Yellow skin, discolored urine or stools, or even difficulty breathing and abdominal pain can mean serious liver damage.

Signs of serious muscle disease should also be watched for while taking the drug – tenderness within the muscles, weakness or discolored or blood within the urine.

Many substances and medications can interact with the drug, including; grapefruit juice, niacin, antacids, birth control pills, fibrades and macrolide antibiotics and digoxin. Some supplements can also interact with the medication causing serious side effects, these include; caffeine and nicotine.

Lipitor can cause serious side effects in the muscles of the body, and grapefruit juice can interact seriously with these side effects by increasing the chances of developing serious muscle problems. The enzymes within the grapefruit, or grapefruit juice that break down the Lipitor, increasing the potency of the drugs, and the chances of developing side effects. One study had shown that the grapefruit/Lipitor interaction increased the potency of the drug up to eighty percent in patients who consumed grapefruit juice, compared to those who did not. These increased levels increased instances of myopathy and rhabdomyolysis which can lead to kidney failure in patients taking Lipitor.

The elderly, taking the medication and those over seventy years of age should be especially careful when taking the medication, as side effects become more pronounced.

There are many things that can be done to prevent, or lower high cholesterol without the use of statins (which have been proven dangerous, and come with many side effects). Diet and exercise as well as the implementation of proper vitamins and nutrients into the diet can make a large impact on lowering the cholesterol.

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