Living with high cholesterol puts you at serious risk of stroke or heart attack. To lower high cholesterol, you must make certain lifestyle changes, including eating healthy, increasing exercise and quitting smoking.

But for certain, high-risk patients, these lifestyle changes may not work fast enough to safely prevent stroke or heart attack. For these patients, doctors may also prescribe a statin medication to lower cholesterol, such as atorvastatin 10 mg.

Atorvastatin also decreases the chance of needing heart surgery in patients with heart disease. But not all patients can take atorvastatin.

Talk to your doctor about using atorvastatin to lower cholesterol. Use this guide below for more information about who can take atorvastatin, and how it can help.

How Atorvastatin Works

Atorvastatin works together with healthy diet and exercise levels to prevent cholesterol buildup by slowing your body’s production of cholesterol. It decreases levels of triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), known as “bad cholesterol,” in your blood. And it increases your level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) known as “good cholesterol.”

Who Can Take Atorvastatin

Atorvastatin is prescribed to those who have high cholesterol and are at high risk of stroke or heart attack.

This includes patients with type 2 diabetes, familial heterozygous hypercholesterolemia or coronary heart disease. It may be prescribed to adults and children 10 years or older.

Who Shouldn’t Take Atorvastatin

Atorvastatin is not safe for everyone and must be prescribed by your doctor. It is not available over the counter in the United States.

Do not take atorvastatin if you:

  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Have liver problems
  • Drink large amounts of alcohol
  • Have an underactive thyroid
  • Are allergic to any of the ingredients
  • Don’t have your doctor’s permission

Before taking atorvastatin tell your doctor if any of these apply to you or if you have diabetes or any muscle disorders. Make sure your doctor knows any and all health conditions and allergies you have as well as any medication you are currently taking.

Atorvastatin can cause birth defects or other harm to unborn or breastfeeding babies. Do not take if you are pregnant, nursing or planning to become pregnant. If you become pregnant while taking atorvastatin, stop taking it immediately and contact your doctor.

Atorvastatin may cause liver failure in those with liver problems, underactive thyroid or those who drink more than 2 alcoholic beverages per day.

Side Effects of Atorvastatin

Possible side effects include:

  • Muscle pain, stiffness or weakness
  • Tight chest
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Fever
  • Rash, itching
  • Hoarseness, coughing or wheezing
  • Back pain
  • Headache
  • Nausea or other stomach problems
  • Sleep problems

Call your doctor immediately if you experience these or any other symptoms after you start taking atorvastatin.

How to Take Atorvastatin 10 Mg-80 Mg Tablets

Atorvastatin is available in doses ranging from 10 mg to 80 mg. Initially, your doctor will most likely start you with atorvastatin 10 mg capsules and increase dosage if necessary.

Capsules are taken once a day at any time of day. Unlike other statin medications, time of day has no impact on the effectiveness of atorvastatin.

Atorvastatin may be available in time-release capsules or chewable tablets. Time-release capsules must be taken whole to be effective and must not be chewed. If you have trouble swallowing pills, ask your doctor to prescribe a chewable tablet.

Talk to Your Doctor About Atorvastatin

This article is not intended or suitable for medical diagnosis or treatment advice. Always get your doctor’s permission before starting any new medication.

For more information, check out How You Know You’ll Need Lipitor for Bad Cholesterol. Click here to see price comparisons for atorvastatin.