Livalo (pitavastatin) is a prescription drug used to treat high cholesterol. Livalo can cause side effects that range from mild to serious. Examples include constipation, muscle ache, and diarrhea.

Specifically, Livalo, along with a balanced, nutritious diet, is prescribed to help treat:

The active ingredient in Livalo is pitavastatin. (An active ingredient is what makes a drug work.) The drug comes as an oral tablet.

Keep reading to learn about the common, mild, and serious side effects Livalo can cause. For a general overview of the drug, including details about its uses, see this article.

Some people may experience mild to serious side effects during Livalo treatment. A few of the more common side effects reported in the drug’s studies include:

  • back pain
  • muscle ache
  • constipation
  • pain in the arms or legs
  • diarrhea

In the studies, adults and children experienced similar side effects.

Mild side effects have been reported with Livalo. These include:

  • headache
  • joint ache
  • pain in the arms and legs
  • mild muscle ache
  • back pain
  • flu-like symptoms
  • cold symptoms
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • mild allergic reaction*

In some cases, these side effects are temporary. And adjusting your diet or taking over-the-counter medications or home remedies with the approval of your doctor may help manage some of them. But if you have symptoms that are ongoing or bothersome, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. And do not stop taking Livalo unless your doctor recommends it.

Livalo may cause mild side effects other than those listed above. See the drug’s prescribing information for details.

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects explained” section below.

Serious side effects have been reported with Livalo. These include:

If you develop serious side effects while taking Livalo, call your doctor right away. If the side effects seem life threatening or you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects explained” section below.

Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks and reviews side effects of the medication. If you’d like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with Livalo, visit MedWatch.

Get answers to some frequently asked questions about Livalo’s side effects.

Can Livalo cause weight gain or hair loss?

Initial studies of Livalo did not report weight gain or hair loss. But some studies of statins (the group of drugs Livalo belongs to) suggest they may cause these side effects in rare cases.

Weight gain

Weight gain may occur with statins, but the reason for this is unknown. A 2023 review of statin studies shows they may cause insulin resistance (in which your cells don’t respond well to insulin) and increased blood sugar. Both can lead to weight gain.

A 2018 study linked statins with decreased leptin activity in your body. Leptin is a hormone that tells your brain you are full. When leptin activity is low, you may feel hungry all the time and may experience weight gain from increased caloric intake.

Another 2023 review of statin studies suggests genetics may contribute to increased insulin resistance and weight gain.

Hair loss

Some people have reported hair loss with statin use, but it’s unclear whether statins are the true cause. A 2019 review on hair conditions suggests that statins may cause hair loss by lowering cholesterol available for hair follicle formation. But more research is needed to confirm this idea.

If you’re worried about possible hair loss or changes in your weight with Livalo, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Does Livalo cause long-term side effects?

It’s possible. Long-term side effects include those that may start at any time you’re taking a drug, even if you’ve taken it for a long time. It also includes side effects that may not go away even after you stop taking the drug.

Examples of long-term side effects reported in Livalo’s studies include:

  • liver problems
  • kidney problems
  • increased blood sugar
  • muscle damage, weakness, and pain

If you’re concerned about possible long-term side effects from Livalo, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Learn more about some of the side effects Livalo may cause.

Immune-mediated necrotizing myopathy (IMNM)

IMNM was not reported in studies of Livalo. But it’s a rare side effect that has been reported by people taking statins. (Livalo belongs to the group of drugs called statins.) IMNM may cause symptoms such as:

  • fatigue (low energy)
  • falls and the inability to get up
  • muscle weakness on both sides of the body in the arms, legs, back, and neck
  • inability to raise the arms, get out of bed, or get out of a chair

Factors that can increase the risk of developing IMNM when taking Livalo include:

What might help

If you think you might have IMNM, talk with your doctor immediately. They’ll likely recommend an urgent medical evaluation with lab work, including a blood test to measure creatinine kinase. It’s important to note that stopping Livalo will not reverse IMNM, and other medications will be needed to treat it.

Myopathy with rhabdomyolysis

Myopathy with rhabdomyolysis (muscle pain and damage that causes kidney problems) is an uncommon side effect reported in studies of Livalo. Myopathy with rhabdomyolysis may cause symptoms such as:

  • muscle pain, soreness, stiffness, and cramps that get worse over time
  • muscle weakness
  • dark brown urine
  • urinating infrequently or in small amounts
  • flu-like symptoms with fever, nausea, and vomiting

Factors that can increase the risk of myopathy with rhabdomyolysis when taking this drug include:

  • high levels of physical activity, such as marathon running
  • being 65 years of age or older
  • being female*
  • taking other medications that interact with statins
  • major surgery or a muscle-crushing accident
  • diabetes
  • consuming cranberry- or grapefruit-containing products or juice
  • excessive alcohol consumption
  • unmanaged high blood pressure and thyroid, kidney, and liver disease

* In this article, we use the term “female” to refer to someone’s sex assigned at birth. For information about the difference between sex and gender, see this article.

What might help

If you think you may have myopathy with rhabdomyolysis, call your doctor right away. Myopathy with rhabdomyolysis can lead to kidney failure and death. If you believe the side effects are life threatening or you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Kidney damage can be reversed if treated early.

Allergic reaction

Like most drugs, Livalo can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Symptoms can be mild to serious and can include:

  • skin rash
  • itchiness
  • flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)
  • swelling under your skin (usually in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet)
  • swelling of your mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe

What might help

If you have mild symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as a mild rash, call your doctor right away. They may suggest a treatment to manage your symptoms. Examples include:

  • an oral antihistamine, such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
  • a product you apply to your skin, such as hydrocortisone cream

If your doctor confirms you’ve had a mild allergic reaction to Livalo, they’ll decide whether you should continue taking it.

If you have symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, such as swelling or difficulty breathing, call 911 or your local emergency number right away. These symptoms could be life threatening and require immediate medical care.

If your doctor confirms you’ve had a serious allergic reaction to Livalo, they may have you switch to a different treatment.

Keeping track of side effects

During your Livalo treatment, consider taking notes on any side effects you’re having. You can then share this information with your doctor. This is especially helpful when you first start taking a new drug or using a combination of treatments.

Your side effect notes can include things such as:

  • what dose of the drug you were taking when you had the side effect
  • how soon you had the side effect after starting that dose
  • what your symptoms were
  • how your symptoms affected your daily activities
  • what other medications you were taking
  • any other information you feel is important

Keeping notes and sharing them with your doctor will help them learn more about how Livalo affects you. They can then use this information to adjust your treatment plan if needed.

Below is important information you should consider before taking Livalo.


Livalo can sometimes cause harmful effects in people with certain conditions. This is known as a drug-condition interaction. Other factors may also affect whether Livalo is a good treatment option for you.

Talk with your doctor about your health history before starting this medication. Be sure to tell them if any of the following factors apply to you:

  • muscle disease
  • kidney problems
  • liver problems
  • low thyroid hormone levels
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • excessive alcohol consumption
  • consuming cranberry- or grapefruit-containing products or juice
  • taking other prescription or over-the-counter medications, supplements, herbs, or vitamins
  • past allergic reaction to Livalo
  • pregnancy
  • breastfeeding

Alcohol and Livalo

It’s best to avoid or limit alcohol consumption while taking Livalo. People who consume large amounts of alcohol may have a higher risk of liver injury.

If you have questions about consuming alcohol during Livalo treatment, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding with Livalo

Livalo is usually prescribed for someone who’s pregnant or breastfeeding only if the benefits of treatment outweigh the potential risks to the fetus or child.


Livalo may not be safe to take during pregnancy. Livalo works by reducing the production of cholesterol and possibly other important substances that come from cholesterol. Because of how it works, Livalo may harm a fetus if taken by someone who is pregnant. However, in 2021, the FDA said doctors may prescribe a statin (the group of drugs Livalo belongs to) for people with high cholesterol and certain risk factors who are pregnant.

If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk with your doctor about your treatment options. If you’re able to become pregnant, your doctor may recommend using a form of birth control during your Livalo treatment.


Livalo may not be safe to take while breastfeeding. There’s no available information on whether Livalo passes into breast milk or its effects on milk production or children who are breastfed.

However, because severe side effects that can happen in adults may occur in children who are breastfed, it may be best to avoid breastfeeding while taking Livalo.

If you’re breastfeeding or planning to do so, talk with your doctor about your options.

Like most drugs, Livalo can cause a number of side effects that range from mild to serious. But most are temporary and go away after a few days to weeks. If you have questions about side effects Livalo can cause, talk with your doctor. Examples to help get you started include:

  • Can Livalo cause memory problems?
  • Will Livalo cause burning and tingling in my feet?
  • What is my risk of liver problems with Livalo?
  • Will eating grapefruit while taking Livalo cause side effects?
  • Can Livalo cause sexual side effects?

To learn more about Livalo, see these articles:

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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 another 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.