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Benefits and Risks of Lipitor

Nowadays the problem of high levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol has driven thousands of people crazy mostly due to the size of the health problems that high cholesterol causes and due to the spread of information on the topic. Sometimes diet or exercises do not help in attempts of people to lower their cholesterol. If there is no other way (it’s in the good scenario) doctors offer patients medicines to lower their LDL cholesterol level (the ‘bad’ one).

Perhaps everyone has ever heard something about Lipitor. Its genetic name is Atorvastatin.

It is the largest selling drug in the world, with 2005 sales of US$12.2 billion under its brand name. It is, perhaps, the only drug with such an extraordinate history of popularity. Just imagine: Lipitor does more than $9 billion in sales per year, which means more than 1 million dollars per hour!...

So, what is Lipitor?

Lipitor (the trade name) or Atorvastatin is one of the drug of the class known as statins, used for lowering cholesterol. It is a medication that blocks the production of cholesterol in the body.

Lipitor reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and total cholesterol in the blood. It inhibits the rate-determining enzyme in hepatic tissue that manufactures a small molecule used in the synthesis of cholesterol and other derivatives. This lowers the amount of cholesterol.

It is used for several purposes: to lower your LDL cholesterol level, to prevent heart disease and hardening of the arteries, to prevent conditions that can lead to heart attack, stroke, and vascular disease and also to lower the risk of these diseases, etc.

Atorvastatin calcium tablets are now marked by Pfizer. The trade name Lipitor has other names that are known in different countries. They are Sortis, Torvacard, Atorpic, Torvast, Liprimar, Totalip, Tulip, Xarator and other available in tablets of 10, 20, 40 and 80 mg for oral administration.

What are benefits of Lipitor?
  1. This is really not a hard way to get your LDL cholesterol level back in normal. But only after you fail getting good results from other methods (after at least 6 months of trying).
  2. If you have a high LDL cholesterol level and are in the group of risk of having a heart attack or developing heart disease – the medicine may be a good answer for you. Those risk factors are: if you have high blood pressure, if you are age 55 years or older, if you are a smoker, if you have low levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein--the good cholesterol), and if you have a family history of early heart disease (or cholesterol problems).
What is not an easy job with Lipitor?
  1. If good food habits and exercises do not help you - your doctor proscribes you Lipitor. But if you think that you just take the pill and live your life – you are wrong. Taking Lipitor is always along with a special diet and some physical activity. Lipitor will not be effective in lowering your cholesterol if you do not follow a cholesterol-lowering diet plan.
  2. Lipitor should be taken every day, without an exception and advisably at the same time. The effect can be only seen after at least 2 weeks. If you have really great problems with your cholesterol – you would take several medicines. With them you should do the same: every day at the same time, only separately (4 hours in between the drugs), which complicates the task in a way. Lipitor needs good organization.
  3. Lipitor does not like mixing with other drugs. It can increase, decrease, or alter the effect of other drugs.
  4. Grapefruit and grapefruit juice may interact with Lipitor and lead to potentially dangerous effects.
What are the risks of Lipitor?
  1. Remember those natural ways of lowering your ‘bad’ cholesterol? If (only if) the usually proscribed methods of a diet, physical exercises and lowering your weight do not work – than you can try Lipitor. Lipitor is not a substitute for these measures, only a supplement.
  2. Never take Lipitor during pregnancy or while breastfeeding (as developing babies need plenty of cholesterol, also it can cause birth defects in an unborn baby; as for breastfeeding – the drug gets into the milk).
  3. Side effects are rather risky. More common of them may include abnormal heartbeat and pain, allergic reaction, accidental injury, arthritis, chest  pain, back pain, joint pain, stomach pain, bloating, muscle aching or weakness, bronchitis, constipation, indigestion, diarrhea, flu symptoms, nausea, rash, fluid retention, gas, infection, urinary tract infection,  headache, inflammation of sinus and nasal passages, dizziness, nausea, rash, weakness.
  4. Some patients report other side effects, such as inability to handle basic math or remember how to spell, or suffering from memory loss (even after giving up taking the drug).
  5. Slight chance of liver damage from Lipitor. So before and 12 weeks after you begin therapy or your dosage is increased, your doctor will order a blood test to check your liver function. Of course, do not take Lipitor if you have liver disease.
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  7. Lipitor can cause a condition that results in the breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue. This condition can lead to kidney failure.
  8. No alcohol while taking Lipitor! Alcohol can raise triglyceride levels, and may also damage your liver while you are taking the drug.

Yes, this is the best-selling cholesterol medicine in the world with 22 million users. But this does not abolish the fact that the patients around the whole world began suing Lipitor for its negative physical side effects (such as muscle pain, nerve damage, nightmares, memory loss and other central nervous system problems). A problem really exists because it was like the company was aware of more serious and permanent health risks in its own clinical studies of statin usage and still was trying to misinform both doctors and consumers. Still, it is not proved yet.

Valentyna Ant.

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