Advertisement

Generic Name:

atorvastatin, Oral tablet

All Brands

  • Lipitor
SECTION 1 of 5

Highlights for atorvastatin

Oral tablet
1

Atorvastatin is used to improve cholesterol levels and decrease your risk for a heart attack and stroke. It’s used together with diet, weight loss, and exercise. This drug helps to prevent cholesterol from building up in your arteries. Clogged arteries can block blood flow to your heart and brain.

2

This drug comes in the form of a tablet you take by mouth.

3

Atorvastatin is available as a brand-name drug called Lipitor. It is also available in its generic form.

4

This drug shouldn’t be used during pregnancy because it can cause harm to your unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

5

In some cases, atorvastatin can cause serious side effects. This includes muscle breakdown, which may also be called myopathy or rhabdomyolysis. You are at greater risk for this if you’re a senior, have uncontrolled thyroid problems, or have kidney problems. If you feel muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness, call your doctor right away.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Muscle problems

You may be at an increased risk for muscle breakdown while taking atorvastatin. The risk is greater if you’re a senior, have thyroid problems, or have kidney disease. You should tell your doctor right away if you start to have unexplained muscle soreness, pain, or weakness.

Liver problems

Lab tests for your liver may be abnormally high while you’re taking atorvastatin and you may have liver problems. Your doctor will monitor this while you are taking this drug.

Diabetes

Atorvastatin may increase your blood sugar. You and your doctor should monitor your blood sugar carefully while you’re taking this drug.

What is atorvastatin?

Atorvastatin is a prescription drug. It is available as an oral tablet.

Atorvastatin is available in its generic form. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name version. Talk to your doctor to see if the generic version will work for you.

Atorvastatin may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other medications. These may include bile acid resins and other cholesterol-lowering medications.

Why it's used

Atorvastatin is used to improve cholesterol levels in people with different types of cholesterol problems. It’s also used to decrease your risk for a heart attack and stroke. It’s used together with diet, weight loss, and exercise.

How it works

Atorvastatin belongs to a class of drugs called HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, or statins. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

More Details

How it works

Atorvastatin belongs to a class of drugs called HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, or statins. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

This drug works by lowering your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol and raising your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or “good” cholesterol. This medication improves your body’s ability to get rid of the LDL cholesterol through your liver.

Advertisement
SECTION 2 of 5

atorvastatin Side Effects

Oral tablet

Most Common Side Effects

Some of the more common side effects that can occur with use of atorvastatin include:

  • diarrhea

  • gas

  • heartburn

  • joint pain

  • forgetfulness

  • confusion

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious Side Effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • muscle problems. Symptoms can include:

    • unexplained muscle weakness, tenderness, or pain
    • tiredness
  • liver problems. Symptoms can include:

    • tiredness or weakness
    • loss of appetite
    • upper stomach pain
    • dark-colored urine
    • yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

Atorvastatin does not cause drowsiness.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 5

atorvastatin May Interact with Other Medications

Oral tablet

Atorvastatin can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Food interactions

Avoid drinking grapefruit juice or eating grapefruit while taking atorvastatin. This can lead to a build-up of atorvastatin in your blood. This increases your risk for muscle breakdown.

Alcohol interaction

The use of drinks that contain alcohol can increase your risk of liver disease from atorvastatin. If you drink more than 2 glasses of alcohol per day, talk to your doctor.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Fungal drugs

Taking certain drugs used to treat fungal infections may cause atorvastatin to build up in your body. This could increase your risk of muscle breakdown. Your doctor may decrease your dose of atorvastatin.

These drugs include:

  • fluconazole
  • itraconazole
  • ketoconazole
  • posaconazole
  • voriconazole

Cancer medications

Atorvastatin can increase the amount of certain cancer drugs in your blood. Your doctor will monitor these levels and adjust your medication doses if needed.

These drugs include:

  • dasatinib
  • doxorubicin
  • palbociclib
  • vincristine
  • siltuximab

Cholesterol-lowering drugs

Other cholesterol-lowering drugs may increase your risk for muscle problems when taken with atorvastatin. Your doctor may change your dosing of these medications or have you avoid taking them together.

These drugs include:

  • medicines that contain fibrate
  • niacin

Tuberculosis drugs

Taking these drugs with atorvastatin may lower the amount of atorvastatin in your body. This means that it may not work as well.

These drugs include:

  • rifampin
  • rifabutin
  • rifaximin
  • rifapentine

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus drugs

Taking certain drugs used to treat HIV or hepatitis C virus may cause atorvastatin to build up in your body. This could increase your risk of muscle breakdown. Your doctor may decrease your dose of atorvastatin.

These drugs include:

  • antibiotics, such as:
    • macrolides (azithromycin, clarithromycin, erythromycin, and telithromycin)
  • protease inhibitors, such as:
    • atazanavir
    • boceprevir
    • darunavir
    • fosamprenavir
    • indinavir
    • lopinavir
    • nelfinavir
    • ritonavir
    • saquinavir
    • simeprevir
    • sofosbuvir
    • tipranavir
    • telapravir

Digoxin

Atorvastatin can increase the amount of digoxin in your blood to dangerous levels. Your doctor will monitor these levels and adjust your medication doses if needed.

Oral birth control pills (contraceptives)

Atorvastatin may increase the levels of oral contraceptive hormones in your blood.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Atorvastatin warnings
kidney problems
People with kidney problems

Having kidney problems may increase your risk of muscle breakdown (rhabdomyolysis) while taking atorvastatin. Your doctor may monitor you more closely for muscle problems.

liver disease
People with liver disease

You shouldn’t take this if you have liver disease since this medication can increase your liver test results. This means that you may have liver damage.

diabetes
People with diabetes

Atorvastatin may increase your blood sugar levels. Your doctor may adjust your diabetes medications if this happens.

pregnant women
Pregnant women

Atorvastatin is a category X pregnancy drug. Category X drugs should never be used during pregnancy.

breastfeeding
Women who are breast-feeding

Atorvastatin may pass into breast milk and may cause side effects in a child who is breast-fed.

Talk to your doctor if you breast-feed your baby. You may need to decide whether to stop breast-feeding or stop taking this medication.

for seniors
For seniors

People over the age of 65 years may have a higher risk of muscle breakdown (rhabdomyolysis) while taking atorvastatin.

for children
For children

Atorvastatin hasn’t been studied and shouldn’t be used in children younger than 10 years. This drug has been shown to be safe and effective in children 10–17 years of age.

allergies
Allergies

Atorvastatin can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • trouble breathing
  • trouble swallowing

Call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room if you develop these symptoms.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

SECTION 4 of 5

How to Take atorvastatin (Dosage)

Oral tablet

All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Prevention of heart disease

Brand: Lipitor

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg, and 80 mg

Generic: atorvastatin

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg, and 80 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

The standard starting dose is 10–20 mg taken by mouth once per day. Usual doses range from 10–80 mg taken once per day.

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

Atorvastatin hasn’t been approved to be used in people younger than 17 years for the prevention of heart disease.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This increases your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose or a different medication schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Dyslipidemia

Brand: Lipitor

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg, and 80 mg

Generic: atorvastatin

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg, and 80 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • The standard starting dose is 10–20 mg taken by mouth once per day. Usual doses range from 10–80 mg taken once per day.
  • When treating homozygous familiar hypercholesterolemia, the dose is 10-80 mg taken by mouth once per day.
Child dosage (ages 10–17 years)
  • In children, atorvastatin is only used to treat heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia.
  • The recommended starting dose for heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia is 10 mg once per day. The maximum recommended dose is 20 mg once per day.
Child dosage (ages 0–9 years)

Atorvastatin hasn’t been studied and shouldn’t be used in people younger than 10 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This increases your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose or a different medication schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

Atorvastatin comes with risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you stop taking the drug or don’t take it at all

While eating a healthy diet can sometimes improve your cholesterol levels, atorvastatin can help them even more. If you don’t take atorvastatin, your cholesterol levels may not be controlled. This may raise your risk for a heart attack or stroke.

If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule

Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely. For this drug to work well, a certain amount needs to be in your body at all times.

If you take too much

You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. You may have the following symptoms:

  • diarrhea
  • gas
  • heartburn
  • joint pain
  • forgetfulness
  • confusion
  • unexplained muscle weakness, tenderness, or pain
  • loss of appetite
  • upper stomach pain
  • dark-colored urine
  • yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes

If you think you’ve taken too much of the drug, act right away. Call your doctor or local Poison Control Center, or go to the nearest emergency room.

What to do if you miss a dose

Take your dose as soon as you remember. But if you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, take only one dose. Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in dangerous side effects.

How to tell if the drug is working

You won’t be able to feel atorvastatin working. Your doctor will measure your cholesterol levels to see how well atorvastatin is working for you. Your doctor may adjust your dose depending on your cholesterol levels.

Atorvastatin is a long-term drug treatment.

Important considerations for taking atorvastatin

Store atorvastatin at room temperature

Keep it from 68°F (20°C) and 77°F (25°C). Keep it away from high temperatures.

Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry it with you, such as in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Clinical monitoring

While you’re being treated with atorvastatin, your doctor will check your cholesterol levels and liver function. This will be done through blood tests.

Your diet

Your doctor may have you follow a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet while you take this drug.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

SECTION 5 of 5

How Much Does atorvastatin Cost?

Oral tablet

We've partnered with GoodRx so you can compare prices, find discounts and save up to 80% on your next prescription. Check out the low coupon prices below — no insurance required.

Compare prices and save up to 80% on your next refill!

Lowest price for atorvastatin

Safeway $10.25
Kroger Pharmacy $10.63
Membership warehouse $12.54
These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for atorvastatin on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

Enter your zip code to find the best deal near you.

These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for atorvastatin on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

Show Sources

Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on September 7, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement