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High Cholesterol? Don't Let It Weigh You Down: How Atorvastatin Can Help Lighten The Load

High cholesterol is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It occurs when there is too much cholesterol circulating in the blood. 

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in all cells of the body and is used to make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help digest foods. However, having elevated cholesterol levels can lead to serious health complications.

Atorvastatin 20mg is usually well-tolerated and one of the most widely prescribed medications for high cholesterol. This article will provide an overview of atorvastatin, including its most severe side effects, blood thinning properties, recommended dosage, and other vital considerations.

What is High Cholesterol?

High cholesterol occurs when there are too many lipids, or fats, in the blood. Specifically, it refers to high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is often called the "bad" cholesterol because it can build up on the walls of arteries, leading to atherosclerosis and heart disease.

In contrast, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol helps remove LDL cholesterol from arteries. For this reason, HDL is often called the “good” cholesterol.

When your total cholesterol levels are above 200 mg/dL or your LDL cholesterol levels are above 100 mg/dL, it is considered high cholesterol. Having optimal cholesterol levels is essential for reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke.

How Atorvastatin Works?

Atorvastatin is part of a group of drugs called statins, which work by blocking an enzyme in the liver called HMG-CoA reductase. This enzyme plays a crucial role in producing cholesterol. By blocking it, atorvastatin reduces the production of cholesterol by the liver.

Atorvastatin comes in tablet form and is taken orally. The typical starting dosage is 10-20 mg per day, but can be increased up to 80 mg per day. It's usually taken in the evening with or without food.

Benefits of Atorvastatin

Atorvastatin is highly effective at lowering LDL cholesterol levels. By inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, Atorvastatin blocks the production of cholesterol in the liver. This stops the liver from releasing as much LDL cholesterol into the bloodstream.

Numerous studies have shown that Atorvastatin can lower LDL cholesterol by up to 60% in patients with high cholesterol. This significant reduction in LDL levels helps prevent the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Plaque accumulation narrows the arteries and makes heart disease more likely.

Lowering LDL cholesterol with Atorvastatin has been proven to substantially reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular problems. Patients taking Atorvastatin for high cholesterol often see improved blood flow and reversal of atherosclerosis. The benefits increase the longer Atorvastatin is taken, and LDL levels are kept under control.

What Are Some Common Side Effects of Atorvastatin?

Some common side effects of Atorvastatin include:

  • Muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness (myopathy). This side effect is rare but can lead to a serious condition called rhabdomyolysis if not treated promptly.
  • Liver damage. Atorvastatin can raise liver enzyme levels in the blood, which may indicate liver damage. Liver function tests are recommended when starting treatment.
  • Digestive issues like nausea, constipation, and gas.
  • Headache, dizziness, joint pain.
  • Back pain.

Most side effects are mild and often improve with continued use. However, it's essential to contact your doctor if you experience muscle pain, dark urine, or yellowing of skin/eyes, as these can indicate serious problems. Your doctor may need to adjust your dosage or switch you to a different statin medication.

Who Should Take Atorvastatin?

Atorvastatin is typically prescribed for patients considered at high risk for cardiovascular disease or those who have already been diagnosed with heart disease. Some key factors that may indicate someone should take Atorvastatin include:

  • Patients with high LDL cholesterol levels above 190 mg/dL. The higher the LDL, the higher the cardiovascular risk, so Atorvastatin can help lower LDL to safer levels.
  • Those diagnosed with cardiovascular conditions like coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease, or angina. Atorvastatin can help prevent disease progression and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • People with type 2 diabetes. They have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, so cholesterol management with Atorvastatin is recommended.
  • Patients with multiple risk factors like smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, family history, etc. The more risk factors present, the more Atorvastatin can mitigate CVD risk.
  • Anyone with a 10-year risk of cardiovascular events is more significant than 10% based on assessment tools. Atorvastatin helps reduce 10-year risk percentages.

Who Should Not Take Atorvastatin?

Atorvastatin is not suitable for everyone. Atorvastatin is contraindicated in pregnancy, liver disease, allergies, and breastfeeding. Patients should inform their doctor about any medical conditions or other medications they are taking to determine if atorvastatin is appropriate for them.

Does Atorvastatin Thin The Blood?

No, atorvastatin is not a blood thinner. Atorvastatin belongs to a class of drugs called statins, which work by lowering cholesterol levels in the blood.

However, atorvastatin may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with other medications that affect blood clotting, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), and aspirin.

So, while atorvastatin is not technically a blood thinner, it can enhance the blood-thinning effect of other anticoagulants and antiplatelet medications. 


In summary, high cholesterol is a significant health concern that affects millions of people worldwide. It leads to a buildup of plaque in arteries that can result in heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular complications. 

Making lifestyle changes like eating healthier, exercising, quitting smoking, and losing weight can help lower cholesterol levels. But for some individuals, cholesterol-lowering medications like atorvastatin are necessary.

However, for many people, this medication provides an invaluable tool for controlling high cholesterol and protecting cardiovascular health. Be sure to discuss all treatment options with your physician.

Contact us at LocalPharmacyonline to fill your atorvastatin prescription if this cholesterol-lowering drug is recommended for your care.