©2018 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved. eMedicineHealth does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See Additional Information.

atorvastatin (Lipitor)

Brand Names: Lipitor

Generic Name: atorvastatin

What is atorvastatin (Lipitor)?

Atorvastatin is in a group of drugs called HMG CoA reductase inhibitors, or "statins." Atorvastatin reduces levels of "bad" cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL) and triglycerides in the blood, while increasing levels of "good" cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL).

Atorvastatin is used to treat high cholesterol, and to lower the risk of stroke, heart attack, or other heart complications in people with type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, or other risk factors.

Atorvastatin is used in adults and children who are at least 10 years old.

Atorvastatin may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What are the possible side effects of atorvastatin (Lipitor)?

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

In rare cases, atorvastatin can cause a condition that results in the breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue, leading to kidney failure. Call your doctor right away if you have unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness especially if you also have fever, unusual tiredness, and dark colored urine.

Also call your doctor at once if you have:

  • pain or burning when you urinate;
  • liver problems--upper stomach pain, weakness, tired feeling, loss of appetite, dark urine, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); or
  • kidney problems--little or no urinating, swelling in your feet or ankles, feeling tired or short of breath.

Common side effects may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What is the most important information I should know about atorvastatin (Lipitor)?

You should not take atorvastatin if you are pregnant or breast-feeding, or if you have liver disease.

Stop taking this medication and tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant.

Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using. Many drugs can interact, and some drugs should not be used together.

Atorvastatin can cause the breakdown of muscle tissue, which can lead to kidney failure. Call your doctor right away if you have unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness especially if you also have fever, unusual tiredness, or dark urine.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking atorvastatin (Lipitor)?

You should not use atorvastatin if you are allergic to it, or if you have:

This medicine can harm an unborn baby or cause birth defects. Do not use if you are pregnant. Stop taking atorvastatin and tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are taking this medicine.

Do not breast-feed while you are taking atorvastatin.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

Atorvastatin can cause the breakdown of muscle tissue, which can lead to kidney failure. This happens more often in women, in older adults, or people who have kidney disease or poorly controlled hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).

Atorvastatin is not approved for use by anyone younger than 10 years old.

How should I take atorvastatin (Lipitor)?

Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose. Use the medicine exactly as directed.

Take the medicine at the same time each day, with or without food.

Do not break an atorvastatin tablet before taking it.

You may need to stop using atorvastatin for a short time if you have:

  • uncontrolled seizures;
  • an electrolyte imbalance (such as high or low potassium levels in your blood);
  • severely low blood pressure;
  • a severe infection or illness; or
  • surgery or a medical emergency.

It may take up to 2 weeks before your cholesterol levels improve, and you may need frequent blood tests. Even if you have no symptoms, tests can help your doctor determine if this medicine is effective.

Atorvastatin is only part of a complete treatment program that may also include diet, exercise, and weight control. Follow your doctor's instructions very closely.

Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light.

What happens if I miss a dose (Lipitor)?

Use the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if you are more than 12 hours late for the dose. Do not use two doses at one time.

What happens if I overdose (Lipitor)?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking atorvastatin (Lipitor)?

Avoid eating foods high in fat or cholesterol, or atorvastatin will not be as effective.

Avoid drinking alcohol. It can raise triglyceride levels and may increase your risk of liver damage.

Grapefruit may interact with atorvastatin and lead to unwanted side effects. Avoid drinking more than 1 liter of grapefruit juice while taking atorvastatin.

What other drugs will affect atorvastatin (Lipitor)?

Certain other drugs can increase your risk of serious muscle problems, and it is very important that your doctor knows if you are using any of them. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially:

  • antibiotic or antifungal medicine;
  • birth control pills;
  • other cholesterol-lowering medication;
  • heart medication; or
  • medicine to treat HIV or AIDS.

This list is not complete. Other drugs may affect atorvastatin, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

Where can I get more information (Lipitor)?

Your pharmacist can provide more information about atorvastatin.


Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Reviewed on 12/19/2018

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors