Lipitor or Atorvastatin is a statin drug to lower your body cholesterol levels. A drug which serves as a savior to millions of Americans who suffer from heart diseases and blood pressure problems, Lipitor works by blocking the production of cholesterol in the body.
How does Lipitor work? Lipitor works by controlling the production of low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) and total cholesterol in the blood. It inhibits the production of HMG-CoA reductase, the enzyme which produces cholesterol in the body. When cholesterol production is stopped, the liver uses the existing blood cholesterol to support body’s activities. This minimizes cholesterol levels in blood and reduces the risk of heart diseases, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and type 2 diabetes in a human being.
General side effects of Lipitor: Like every other drug, Lipitor too has its list of side effects. Some of them are:
1. Skeletal muscle tissue problem: A serious side effect is the breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue, which can lead to kidney failure. Though this is rare among users of Lipitor, it is possible at a rate of 1 in 50 people who take the medication, according to a study by Pfizer, the drug manufacturer. So, if you are one in the odd 98.6 million who take up the drug, beware! You can become victim of muscle tissue failure if you are not careful.
2. Liver problem: Since Lipitor works in the liver, it can lead to many liver infections and problems. Though it is claimed that Lipitor reduces about 69% of bad cholesterol in the body, its act on the enzymes in the liver can cause serious stomach upsets and infections, leading to critical liver disorders or failure. This is why it is important to do a regular check up with your doctor on the functioning of your liver and kidney. If unheeded, Lipitor can land you in liver and kidney failure.
3. Other possible side effects: Other side effects of the drug, as listed in the manufacturer’s website, include headache, stomach upsets, loss of appetite, brown urine, jaundice, constipation, nausea, diarrhea, gas formation, stuffy nose, itching, skin rashes, joint pain etc.
Rare side effect – Memory Loss: Many anecdotal examples and references state that Lipitor has a rare side effect – memory loss. Though there is no FDA-proven scientific link to prove what causes memory loss, many patients have reported ‘senior moments’ or loss of memory while taking the drug.
A study reported in the Journal of Science from 2001, provides clues to the curious case of memory loss on account of Lipitor. It says that memory loss occurs due to lack of cholesterol in the brain. Since statins like Lipitor cross the “blood-brain barrier”and reduce cholesterol levels to a phenomenal extent, the brain loses its ability to form ‘synapses’ or new connections, resulting in memory loss. Another study reveals that low cholesterol levels in the brain could lead to Alzheimer’s disease. So, with the anecdotal references, one can say that there is an unknown link between low cholesterol or statin drugs and memory loss.
What should you do in case of memory loss? If you experience memory loss while taking Lipitor, stop taking the drug and consult your doctor immediately. In some cases, doctors may prescribe a different course of medication or reduce your dosage to observe the results.
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