Lipitor can also raise the levels of HDL cholesterol ("good" cholesterol) in your blood.
The drug is sometimes prescribed to people with an existing heart condition to lower their risk of experiencing a heart attack or other cardiac event.
Additionally, Lipitor may be prescribed as a preventive drug for people with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), a history of smoking, or other conditions that could increase their risk for heart complications.
Statins are the most widely-prescribed class of drugs in the United States, and Lipitor is the top-selling prescription drug of all time, exceeding $130 billion in sales.
More than 29 million people in the United States have been prescribed Lipitor.
Pfizer manufactures Lipitor, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996.
In 2014, the company denied liability for lawsuits by women who claimed that Lipitor gave them type 2 diabetes, stating that the women may have other risk factors that make them vulnerable to the disease, such as high blood pressure or obesity.
The lawsuits follow a 2012 call by the FDA to change the labeling on the drug to include a warning about the drug's link to high blood sugar and increased risk for type 2 diabetes.
In a study of more than 470,000 patients newly treated with a statin, researchers found that Lipitor presented the highest diabetes risk.
Additional studies reported that diabetes risk is higher for certain groups, including the elderly, women, and Asians.
Before taking Lipitor, tell your doctor if you have a thyroid disorder, muscle pain or weakness, a history of liver or kidney disease, or if you drink more than two alcoholic beverages a day.
Lipitor will not be as effective in lowering your cholesterol if you do not follow a cholesterol-lowering diet plan, so it's important to avoid eating foods that are high in fat or cholesterol.
It's also important to stick to an exercise routine, and to keep your weight under control.
Children and people with liver problems should not take Lipitor. Liver complications linked to Lipitor include hepatitis, fatty changes to the liver, and cirrhosis. Symptoms related to Lipitor liver injury include the following:
While talking Lipitor, there is a possible risk of myopathy, a muscle disease in which the muscle fibers do not function properly.
If you feel any unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness â particularly if you have any of these along with a fever, or if these muscle signs or symptoms persist after discontinuing Lipitor â call your doctor.
In rare cases, Lipitor can cause a condition that results in the breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue, leading to kidney failure. Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:
Lipitor and other statins should not be used during pregnancy because of the risk of harm to the fetus.
If you are of childbearing age and are prescribed Lipitor, be sure to use an effective method of birth control to prevent pregnancy.
If you become pregnant while taking Lipitor, stop taking the drug and call your doctor immediately.
Lipitor should not be taken while breastfeeding, because it can pass into breast milk and may harm a breastfeeding infant.
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Lipitor can cause serious side effects. Stop taking the drug and call your doctor right away if you have any of these serious side effects:
Less serious side effects from Lipitor may include mild muscle pain, diarrhea, or mild nausea.
Get emergency medical help if you take Lipitor and have signs of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) including hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.