Atorvastatin (Lipitor®) is a medicine that treats high cholesterol. It works by causing your liver to make less cholesterol. People take atorvastatin to lower their risk of a stroke or heart attack. For the best results, exercise and eat healthy while taking atorvastatin.


What is this medication?

ATORVASTATIN (a TORE va sta tin) treats high cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke. It works by decreasing bad cholesterol and fats (such as LDL, triglycerides) and increasing good cholesterol (HDL) in your blood. It belongs to a group of medications called statins. Changes to diet and exercise are often combined with this medication.

This medicine may be used for other purposes; ask your health care provider or pharmacist if you have questions.



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What should I tell my care team before I take this medication?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:

  • Diabetes
  • Frequently drink alcohol
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Muscle cramps, pain
  • Stroke
  • Thyroid disease
  • An unusual or allergic reaction to atorvastatin, other medications, foods, dyes, or preservatives
  • Pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • Breast-feeding

How should I use this medication?

Take this medication by mouth. Take it as directed on the label at the same time every day. You can take it with or without food. If it upsets your stomach, take it with food. Keep taking it unless your care team tells you to stop.

Do not take this medication with grapefruit juice.

Talk to your care team about the use of this medication in children. While it may be prescribed for children as young as 10 for selected conditions, precautions do apply.

Overdosage: If you think you have taken too much of this medicine contact a poison control center or emergency room at once.

NOTE: This medicine is only for you. Do not share this medicine with others.


What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, take only that dose. Do not take double or extra doses.

What may interact with this medication?

Do not take this medication with any of the following:

  • Dasabuvir; ombitasvir; paritaprevir; ritonavir
  • Ombitasvir; paritaprevir; ritonavir
  • Posaconazole
  • Red yeast rice

This medication may also interact with the following:

  • Alcohol
  • Certain antibiotics like erythromycin and clarithromycin
  • Certain antivirals for HIV or hepatitis
  • Certain medications for cholesterol like fenofibrate, gemfibrozil, and niacin
  • Certain medications for fungal infections like ketoconazole and itraconazole
  • Colchicine
  • Cyclosporine
  • Digoxin
  • Estrogen or progestin hormones
  • Grapefruit juice
  • Rifampin

This list may not describe all possible interactions. Give your health care provider a list of all the medicines, herbs, non-prescription drugs, or dietary supplements you use. Also tell them if you smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs. Some items may interact with your medicine.


What should I watch for while using this medication?

Visit your care team for regular checks on your progress. Tell your care team if your symptoms do not start to get better or if they get worse.

Your care team may tell you to stop taking this medication if you develop muscle problems. If your muscle problems do not go away after stopping this medication, contact your care team.

Talk to your care team if you wish to become pregnant or think you might be pregnant. This medication can cause serious birth defects.

Talk to your care team before breastfeeding. Changes to your treatment plan may be needed.

This medication may increase blood sugar. Ask your care team if changes in diet or medications are needed if you have diabetes.

If you are going to need surgery or other procedure, tell your care team that you are using this medication.

Taking this medication is only part of a total heart healthy program. Ask your care team if there are other changes you can make to improve your overall health.

What side effects may I notice from receiving this medication?

Side effects that you should report to your care team as soon as possible:

  • Allergic reactions—skin rash, itching, hives, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • High blood sugar (hyperglycemia)—increased thirst or amount of urine, unusual weakness, fatigue, blurry vision
  • Liver injury—right upper belly pain, loss of appetite, nausea, light-colored stool, dark yellow or brown urine, yellowing skin or eyes, unusual weakness, fatigue
  • Muscle injury—unusual weakness, fatigue, muscle pain, dark yellow or brown urine, decrease in amount of urine
  • Redness, blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin, including inside the mouth

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your care team if they continue or are bothersome):

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Upset stomach

This list may not describe all possible side effects. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Where should I keep my medication?

Keep out of the reach of children and pets.

Store at room temperature between 20 and 25 degrees C (68 and 77 degrees F). Get rid of any unused medication after the expiration date.

To get rid of medications that are no longer needed or have expired:

  • Take the medication to a medication take-back program. Check with your pharmacy or law enforcement to find a location.
  • If you cannot return the medication, check the label or package insert to see if the medication should be thrown out in the garbage or flushed down the toilet. If you are not sure, ask your care team. If it is safe to put it in the trash, take the medication out of the container. Mix the medication with cat litter, dirt, coffee grounds, or other unwanted substance. Seal the mixture in a bag or container. Put it in the trash.

NOTE: This sheet is a summary. It may not cover all possible information. If you have questions about this medicine, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider.

Additional Common Questions

What are the side effects of atorvastatin?

More common side effects of atorvastatin may include:

  • Nausea (upset stomach).
  • Dyspepsia (indigestion).
  • Diarrhea.
  • Insomnia (trouble sleeping).
  • Arthralgia (pain in your joints).
  • Pain in your arms or legs.
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI).
  • Forgetfulness.
  • Common cold.
  • Muscle pain or weakness.
  • Confusion.

When should I take atorvastatin, morning or night?

You should take statins at bedtime because your liver makes most of your cholesterol at night. Statins make you produce less cholesterol. Take atorvastatin at the same time every night.

Do you gain weight with atorvastatin?

Weight gain isn’t a side effect of atorvastatin. But a study found that many people who take statins eat more calories and fat than people who don’t take statins.

What should I avoid when taking atorvastatin?

When taking atorvastatin, you should avoid:

  • Pregnancy. This drug may cause harm to a fetus. If you’re planning to become pregnant, you should discuss your risk of heart disease with your provider. If appropriate, stop taking the statin one to two months before conceiving.
  • Breastfeeding (chestfeeding).
  • Drinking more than one quart of grapefruit juice per day. This increases your risk of side effects.

People with advanced liver disease shouldn’t use statin medications.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

It can be frustrating to feel like exercising and changing your diet weren’t enough to bring your cholesterol numbers into a healthy range. But many people need help from medicines like atorvastatin to reach their cholesterol goals. Exercising and eating nutritious foods still matter, though, so keep those habits for the best results.

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Note: Introduction and Additional Common Questions written and medically approved by Cleveland Clinic professionals.

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