Information about this medicine
What are the most important things you need to know about your medicines?
Make sure you know about each of the medicines you take. This includes why you take it, how to take it, what you can expect while you're taking it, and any warnings about the medicine.
The information provided here is general. So be sure to read the information that came with your medicine. If you have any questions or concerns, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.
Why are statins used?
Statins are used to lower cholesterol and the risk for a heart attack and stroke.
What are some examples of statins?
Here are some examples of statins. For each item in the list, the generic name is first, followed by any brand names.
- atorvastatin (Lipitor)
- lovastatin (Altoprev, Mevacor)
- pravastatin (Pravachol)
- rosuvastatin (Crestor)
- simvastatin (Zocor)
This is not a complete list of statins.
How do statins work?
Statins lower the amount of cholesterol in your blood by reducing how much cholesterol your body makes.
Along with lowering cholesterol levels in the blood, statins reduce inflammation around the cholesterol buildup (called a plaque). This may lower the risk that the plaque will break apart and cause a blood clot that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
What about side effects?
You may feel muscle aches when you take statins. Statins may raise the risk of diabetes for some people.
The side effects of statin medicines are more likely when higher doses are used.
General information about side effects
All medicines can cause side effects. Many people don't have side effects. And minor side effects sometimes go away after a while.
But sometimes side effects can be a problem or can be serious.
If you're having problems with side effects, talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change to a different medicine.
Always be sure you get specific information on the medicine you're taking. For a full list of side effects, check the information that came with the medicine you're using. If you have questions, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.
Cautions about statins
General cautions for all medicines include the following:
- Allergic reactions: All medicines can cause a reaction. This can sometimes be an emergency. Before you take any new medicine, tell the doctor or pharmacist about any past allergic reactions you've had.
- Drug interactions: Sometimes one medicine may keep another medicine from working well. Or you may get a side effect you didn't expect. Medicines may also interact with certain foods or drinks, like grapefruit juice and alcohol. Some interactions can be dangerous.
- Harm to unborn babies and newborns: If you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding, ask your doctor or pharmacist if any of the medicines you take could harm your baby.
- Other health problems: Before taking a medicine, be sure your doctor or pharmacist knows about all your health problems. Other health problems may affect your medicine. Or the medicine for one health problem may affect another health problem.
Always tell your doctor or pharmacist about all the medicines you take. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. That information will help prevent serious problems.
Always be sure you get specific information on the medicine you're taking. For a full list of warnings, check the information that came with the medicine you're using. If you have questions, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.
Current as of: December 15, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine