Atorvastatin Tablets

  • Significantly lowers bad cholesterol compared to other statins
  • Works by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase responsible for creating "bad" cholesterol
  • Can be used to prevent Heart Disease, Strokes or a Heart Attacks

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High Cholesterol key facts UK

  • Cholesterol levels increase with age
  • 39.65% of people in the UK have are considered to have borderline or high cholesterol levels
  • Women going through the menopause are at risk of developing high cholesterol
  • High cholesterol is one of the main risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease

Source - Forthwithlife.co.uk

What is Atorvastatin?

Atorvastatin is a statin medication used to prevent cardiovascular disease in those with high cholesterol. The primary use of atorvastatin is to reduce the amount of lipids within the blood (Dyslipidaemia), which is a direct risk factor for developing cardio vascular disease.

Atorvastatin comes in tablet form, it is a prescription only medicine and should be prescribed by a doctor or qualified healthcare professional.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is found in your blood, Cholesterol plays a very important role in how the human body functions and is present in every cell in your body.

Cholesterol forms part of the outer layer (membrane) of all the cells in your body, it is vital to produce Vitamin D and steroid hormones which are essential for keeping your muscles and bones healthy, Cholesterol also helps the liver to produce a natural substance called bile which is needed to help you digest the fats you eat.

Cholesterol is made up of different blood fats known as Lipids. Lipids attach to proteins within the blood and form tiny spheres or parcels which help them to travel around the blood, these tiny parcels are known as Lipoproteins. The two most known lipoproteins are called LDL Cholesterol (low density lipoprotein) and HDL cholesterol (high density cholesterol).

LDL cholesterol is often called bad cholesterol, too much of it can cause a build-up in your arteries, clogging them up, and can lead to several other related health conditions.

HDL cholesterol is often called 'good cholesterol' as it can help to prevent disease. HDL cholesterol contains lots of protein, it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, it also removes excessive cholesterol from the blood vessels. HDL cholesterol also helps the body get rid of the bad (LDL) cholesterol by taking it to the liver.

Having a high level of LDL cholesterol is what is commonly known as high cholesterol and will usually need to be treated by medicine or lifestyle changes. Although having a high cholesterol level will not usually contribute to any physical side effects, there are many risk factors associated with a high cholesterol level such as Cardiovascular disease.

What is Atorvastatin used to treat?

Atorvastatin belongs to a group of drugs called statins, it is used to lower the non-HDL cholesterol levels in your body, in particular the lower density cholesterol (LDL) levels. Atorvastatin also helps to increase the good (HDL) cholesterol levels which helps to prevent several diseases caused by LDL cholesterol and other non-HDL cholesterol.

Atorvastatin also helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, angina, heart attacks and strokes because of high cholesterol.

Atorvastatin should be used in conjunction with introducing a healthy balanced diet to help reduce bad cholesterol levels.

How does Atorvastatin treat high cholesterol?

Atorvastatin belongs to a group of drugs called HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, more commonly known as statins. Atorvastatin works by lowering the levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and increasing the HDL (good) cholesterol. 

Atorvastatin also helps to remove LDL from the body by increasing the LDL receptors, which is a primary component when it comes to managing cholesterol levels in the body.

The LDL receptors help to absorb bad cholesterol in the body and pass it into the cells in the liver. LDL receptors are mostly found in the liver, the liver helps to remove excessive and unneeded cholesterol from the body.

By increasing the number of LDL receptors within the body, this enables more LDL cholesterol to by removed from the body.

How to take Atorvastatin

Atorvastatin tablets should be swallowed whole and taken with a glass of water. If you have been given chewable tablets from your pharmacy, you can chew them or swallow them whole with a glass of water.

You should take Atorvastatin tablets once a day, they should be taken at the same time every day.

In some cases, certain statins are best taken at night, however Atorvastatin can be taken in the morning due to its half-life of 14 hours. Statins that have a half-life of less than 6 hours should be taken at night.

Atorvastatin tablets will not have any effect on your stomach, so you can take it with or without food.

Who can take Atorvastatin?

Atorvastatin is an effective treatment in reducing 'bad' cholesterol, but it is not suitable for everyone to use.

Atorvastatin can be taken by adults and children who are over the age of 10 years old.

Before you take Atorvastatin, you should inform your doctor if any of these apply to you:

  • You drink large quantities of alcohol
  • You have liver problems
  • You have kidney problems
  • You have had a stroke that was caused by bleeding in the brain
  • You are allergic to Atorvastatin or any other medicines you have taken in the past
  • You have severe lung disease
  • You have had or currently have a muscle disorder
  • You have taken a statin in the past, and it has affected your muscles

Possible side effects

As is the case with any medication for high cholesterol, taking Atorvastatin does come with the risk of certain side effects.

Not everyone will experience side effects and statins can affect people in different ways. Many people who do experience side effects will find that these will ease after a week or so once your body gets used to the medication.

Inform your doctor or pharmacist of any side affects you may be experiencing if they bother you or do not go away.

Common side effects of Atorvastatin may include:

  • Indigestion or feeling sick
  • Sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation or wind
  • Nosebleeds
  • Aches and pains in your back or joints
  • Cold-like symptoms

Aches and pains in your muscles, back or joints may not appear until a few months into taking Atorvastatin. You should report these pains, as well as any tenderness or weakness you may feel, to your doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible.

Please note that this list is not exhaustive; for the full list of side effects associated with Atorvastatin, you should refer to the Side Effects tab on this product's page.

Atorvastatin alternatives

There are 5 types of statins that are used to treat high cholesterol in the UK. 

All statins will have a very similar mechanism of action; however, indications and dose can vary depending on which statin you are prescribed.

You should always take the statin that you have been prescribed by your doctor, do not switch between statins.

Can you buy Atorvastatin over the counter in the UK?

No, atorvastatin is a prescription only medicine and is not available for purchase over the counter. When you are prescribed atorvastatin, it is likely that your doctor or GP will frequently monitor your cholesterol levels to ensure that the treatment is working effectively. 

Can you buy atorvastatin online in the UK?

Yes, Atorvastatin is available to buy online in the UK. However, you will need to complete an online medical consultation so your condition can be assessed by a doctor or qualified healthcare professional. 

When you buy Atorvastatin online, the online medical questionnaire you are required to complete will ensure you are receiving the most suitable treatment option for your condition. For your own safety, and to ensure that you are receiving the most from your treatment, it is essential to provide as much information as possible during your consultation.

It is important to ensure that when you buy Atorvastatin online, you do so from a UK fully regulated pharmacy. To learn more about our company, team, medical professionals, and the licenses we hold, visit our about us page.

Atorvastatin Indications and dose

The normal dose for adults is between 10mg and 80mg per day.

Our pharmacists and prescribers follow NICE prescribing guidelines when prescribing Atorvastatin Tablets.

If your child is required to take this medication, the usual dose is between 10mg and 20mg; the dosage will usually be worked out by your doctor depending on your child's age.

How much you will be prescribed will depend on the condition you are being treated for, how high your ‘bad’ cholesterol levels are and any other medicines you may be taking already.

If you are unsure of how much Atorvastatin to take, you should speak to your doctor or pharmacist for advice. Never reduce or increase your dose without your doctor's advice.

What if I take too much?

If you take too much Atorvastatin accidentally, you are unlikely to suffer any side effects, but you should speak to your doctor or pharmacist if you become worried or take more than one extra dose.

What if I take more than I am supposed to?

To treat high cholesterol, it is important you are consistent with taking Atorvastatin. However, if you do occasionally forget to take a dose, just take the next dose at the scheduled time.

Never take two doses at the same time and never double dose in an attempt to make up for a missed dose.

It is important you take Atorvastatin at the same time each day; some people find it beneficial to set an alarm to remind them to take it.

How long will it take to work?

If you take this medication as prescribed, your cholesterol levels should start to drop a noticeable amount after around 4 weeks of using it.

Atorvastatin FAQ's

How can I lower my cholesterol?

There are other ways to help lower high cholesterol in our bodies. Lifestyle changes such as losing weight, stopping smoking, exercising more and cutting down on alcohol will help you de-crease your chances of developing or worsening the levels of 'bad' cholesterol in your body. You should try and avoid eating a lot of food with high levels of saturated fats, such as meat pies, butter, cakes, cheese, and fattier red meats. Instead try and eat more foods which are fortified with fibre and low saturated fat such as wholemeal bread, yoghurt, orange juice, fish, fruits and vegetables and other wholegrain products. Moreover, rather than roasting and frying food, try steaming, boiling and grilling your meals.

Is Atorvastatin better than other statins?

Research has shown that Atorvastatin significantly lowers the cholesterol levels in a person's body compared to several other statins such as Simvastatin, fluvastatin and pravastatin. This can reduce your risk of suffering from a wide range of illness, including a heart attack or a stroke.

Is Atorvastatin safe to use long term?

Yes, in fact, it is most effective when used long-term. If you are taking any kind of statin to treat high cholesterol or to promote 'good' cholesterol, you may need to take it for the rest of your life. Statins will only lower your cholesterol levels for the length of time you are taking them. If you take this medication to prevent heart disease or to lower cholesterol levels, you will stop benefiting from it as soon as you stop taking it.

Is Atorvastatin addictive?

There is no research to suggest that Atorvastatin is addictive when taken for any length of time. It does not produce any feelings of euphoria or relaxation, and you will not experience withdrawal symptoms if you are instructed to stop using it.

How much will Atorvastatin lower cholesterol?

Statins can lower the levels of 'bad' cholesterol in your body by roughly 30%. When taken in higher doses, this can increase to 50%.

Is Atorvastatin a cure?

Atorvastatin is not a cure for high cholesterol. It will only lower the levels of cholesterol in your body for the duration of your taking the medicine. If you stop taking Atorvastatin, the effects of this medication will also stop.

How will I know if it's working?

To check the levels of your cholesterol, you will need a blood test to see if the medicine has been effective.

Can I buy Atorvastatin online?

You can only order Atorvastatin online if you have been prescribed this medication by a doctor. If you have been prescribed Atorvastatin, you can order it from a registered pharmacy like Medicine Direct. After an online consultation with one of our certified doctors, they will prescribe you this medicine if they deem it an appropriate treatment. You can then place your order at our online pharmacy. We offer a very discreet service and if you order from our pharmacy before 2pm, we offer next day delivery.

Do I need to make any dietary changes while I'm taking this medication?

While using Atorvastatin, it is best to avoid drinking more than 1 litre of grapefruit juice each day. Grapefruit juice may interfere with the medication's effectiveness and may also increase the medicine's concentration in your body.

Atorvastatin Side Effects

The common side effects of Atorvastatin can be found on the main product page. For detailed information, you should always read the patient information leaflet supplied inside your medication box. 

In some cases, you may suffer more serious side effects while taking this medication. These effects are rare and occur in less than 1 in every 1,000 people.

You should stop taking the medication and speak to your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following side effects:

  • Severe stomach pain – a possible sign of pancreas problems
  • Weight loss, coughing or shortness of breath – these could be signs of lung disease
  • Cramps, muscle pain, tenderness or weakness – could be signs of a muscle breakdown or kidney damage
  • A skin rash that has pink or red blotches, notably on the hands or soles of the feet
  • Yellowing of the skin and around the eyes, pale stools or dark urine – could be signs of liver problems

It is also possible, in rare cases, to suffer from a severe allergic reaction when taking Atorvastatin. If this does happen, you may require immediate treatment in a hospital.

If you experience any of the below symptoms you should either go to A&E or call 999 immediately:

  • You have a skin rash that is itchy, red, swollen, blistered or peeling
  • You are wheezing
  • You find it difficult to speak or breathe
  • You have tightness in the chest or throat
  • You have swelling in your lips, face, tongue, mouth or throat

This list may not be exhaustive. As with any medication for any condition, you should always read the patient information leaflet that will accompany your medicine for the full list of adverse reactions you may experience.

If you have any concerns, doubts or questions at all, do not hesitate to tell your doctor.

Coping with the side effects

If you feel sick:

Avoid eating rich or spicy food, stick to simple meals. Some people find it eases their nausea when they take Atorvastatin with or shortly after a meal; if you choose to do this, you should stick to this routine and keep taking the medication at the same time every day.

You can purchase antacids from a registered pharmacy if you suffer indigestion.

If your symptoms persist or get worse, you should talk to your doctor.

If you get nosebleeds:

Apply a thin layer of Vaseline to the inside of your nose.

If you have aches and pains in your joints or muscles:

You should go back to your doctor if you get any pain or tenderness that is not from exercising or work; you may require a blood test to identify the cause of the pain.

If you have diarrhoea:

Your body loses a lot of fluid when you have diarrhoea, so it is important you drink plenty of water to keep up your fluid intake.

If you get constipated or have wind:

Eat plenty of foods that are high in fibre, such as fruit, bran flakes and vegetables. Drink plenty of water and try to take more regular exercise – in particular, try to go for a walk or a run.

If your symptoms do not ease, go and speak to your doctor or pharmacist

If you have a sore throat:

Adults should try gargling with warm salt water. You can also try paracetamol or ibuprofen to ease the pain. If you have a sore throat for longer than a week, you should consult your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

If you show signs of a cold:

Take a painkiller like ibuprofen or paracetamol regularly for a few days. Consult your doctor if the symptoms return after you stop taking the painkiller.

If you get headaches:

Avoid alcohol as this can dehydrate you; drink plenty of water. Headaches are a relatively common side effect of Atorvastatin, but if they persist for longer than one week, you should return to your doctors and ask them for advice.

Atovastatin Warnings and drug interactions

Atorvastatin may interact with other medicines, hindering the effectiveness of this medication.

It is safe to drink alcohol while taking Atorvastatin, but drinking excessively means that you are more vulnerable to suffering from liver or muscle side effects associated with this medication.

Research has shown that alcohol can raise the levels of 'good' cholesterol in your body, but you should avoid drinking more than 14 units of alcohol in the same week.

Atorvastatin may increase the hormones released into a woman's system if she is taking the contraceptive pill. While you will still be protected against getting pregnant, it should be noted that this may increase your risk of suffering form adverse effects from the contraceptive pill. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist if you do suffer any side effects.

You should inform your doctor if you are taking one or more of the below before you start to take Atorvastatin:

  • Any medications to treat HIV
  • Any medicines to treat hepatitis C
  • The Contraceptive pill
  • Ciclosporin
  • Amiodarone to stabilise your heart
  • Warfarin to stop blood clotting
  • Verapamil, diltiazem or amlodipine to treat high blood pressure and heart problems
  • Colchicine
  • Antibiotics or antifungals

For more information on medicines that interact with Atorvastatin tablets.

If you need to take any of the medicines listed above while also using Atorvastatin, your doctor may do one of several things:

  • Prescribe a different statin medicine
  • Suggest you stop taking Atorvastatin for a while
  • Prescribe you a lower dose of Atorvastatin

Herbal remedies

If you are taking any herbal remedies that contain St. John's Wort (generally used in medicine for depression), it can reduce the amount of Atorvastatin in your blood, which will diminish its effectiveness.

You should speak to your doctor before you start to use any St. John's Wort medicines alongside this or any other medication for high cholesterol.

This list is not exhaustive. You should read the patient information leaflet that will come with your medicine for the full list of drugs that can interact with Atorvastatin.

When you are prescribed a new medication, you must always inform your doctor and pharmacist of any medicine(s) you are already using. This includes both prescription and non-prescription medicine, herbal remedies, vitamins and supplements.

If you have any concerns or questions at all, we strongly advise you to discuss them with your doctor before you start to use this medicine.

To ensure you are taking medicine that is safe, you should only order Atorvastatin online if it is from a registered online pharmacy like Medicine Direct.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

You should not take Atovastatin if you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breastfeeding. 

Atorvastatin Ingredients

Atorvastatin calcium is the active ingredient contained in this medication.

Inactive ingredients also contained in Atorvastatin are: mannitol, cellulose microcrystalline, crospovidone, sodium carbonate, povidone, methionine, magnesium stearate.

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Please note that next day delivery to Northern Ireland, Scottish Highlands & Islands and British Isles cannot be guaranteed. Please contact our team for more information.

Medically reviewed byHussain Abdeh MPharm: 2211840

Published on: 12/10/2020

Updated on: 28/06/2021

This content has been written by our Superintendent Pharmacist Hussain Abdeh and has been medically reviewed by our Pharmacist Sonia Khan

Hussain Abdeh Superintendent Pharmacist at Medicine Direct

Hussain Abdeh
MPharm: 2211840

Pharmacist Independent Prescriber

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