Side-effects of Atorvastatin (Lipitor) usage

Side-effects of Atorvastatin (Lipitor) usage

Side-effects of Atorvastatin / Lipitor usage

Treatment with Atorvastatin / Lipitor is not without some unwanted side-effects but is frequently well tolerated. Many side-effects experienced are often mild and transient (short-lived).

Not every patient will experience all known side-effects while on a treatment plan. Some side-effects, although not pleasant, may not require additional medical treatment either as they typically resolve once the body adjusts to use of the medication (i.e. temporary discomfort).

If a side-effect is bothersome, it is best to discuss it with the treating doctor. Depending on the side-effect and level of severity, it may be possible to either prevent or reduce the adverse reaction through dosage control or even a change in medication.

Here is a breakdown of side-effects with a known association with this medication…

1. Highly common side-effects (high frequency occurrence)
  • Diarrhoea (5-14%)
  • Nasopharyngitis (common cold / viral infection of the nose and throat – nasal congestion, runny nose and sore throat) (4-13%)
  • Joint pain (arthralgia) (4-12%)
2. Some other side-effects known to occur (in order of percentage frequency)
  • Urinary tract infection (including painful / difficulties with urination – increased frequency, urinary urgency or retention and urinary incontinence) (4-8%)
  • Nausea (4-7%)
  • Limb pain (3-8%)
  • Muscle pain (myalgia) (3-8%)
  • Indigestion (dyspepsia) (3-6%)
  • Muscle spasms (2-5%)
  • Musculoskeletal pain (especially the lower back and side, or around the eyes and cheekbones) (2-5%)
  • Joint swelling (more than 2%)
  • Dizziness (more than 2%)
  • Angina pectoris (chest pain) (more than 2%)
  • Swelling (peripheral oedema) (more than 2%)
  • Fever (less than 2%)
  • Neck pain (rigidity) (less than 2%)
  • Malaise (less than 2%)
  • Generalised swelling (less than 2%)
  • Flatulence (gas) (less than 2%)
  • Constipation (less than 2%)
  • Belching (eructation) (less than 2%)
  • Photosensitivity (sun urticaria) (less than 2%)
  • Gastroenteritis (less than 2%)
  • Colitis (inflammation of the colon (less than 2%)
  • Gastritis (less than 2%)
  • Vomiting (less than 2%)
  • Stomach ulcer (less than 2%)
  • Dry mouth (less than 2%)
  • Mouth ulceration (less than 2%)
  • Glossitis (inflammation of the tongue) (less than 2%)
  • Increased appetite (less than 2%)
  • Hepatitis (less than 2%)
  • Cholestatic jaundice (reduction or cessation of bile flow from the liver) (less than 2%)
  • Pancreatitis (less than 2%)
  • Pneumonia (less than 2%)
  • Dyspnea (breathing difficulties – shortness of breath or laboured breathing) (less than 2%)
  • Asthma (less than 2%)
  • Epistaxis (nose bleeds) (less than 2%)
  • Leg cramps (less than 2%)
  • Myositis (muscular inflammation) (less than 2%)
  • Tendinous contracture (muscular or joint shortening) (less than 2%)
  • Myasthenia (skeletal muscle weakness) (less than 2%)
  • Tenosynovitis (tendon sheath inflammation) (less than 2%)
  • Bursitis (inflammation of the bursae – fluid-filled sacs near the joints) (less than 2%)
  • Contact dermatitis (skin rash) (less than 2%)
  • Dry skin (less than 2%)
  • Pruritus (itching of the skin) (less than 2%)
  • Sweating (less than 2%)
  • Hives (urticaria) (less than 2%)
  • Eczema (less than 2%)
  • Alopecia (less than 2%)
  • Acne (less than 2%)
  • Tinnitus (ringing / noise in the ears) (less than 2%)
  • Dry eyes (less than 2%)
  • Glaucoma (vision loss) (less than 2%)
  • Deafness (less than 2%)
  • Loss of taste (less than 2%)
  • Migraine / headache (less than 2%)
  • Syncope (fainting) (less than 2%)
  • Postural hypotension (low blood pressure when standing up from a lower position – lying down or seated) (less than 2%)
  • Palpitations (rapid heartbeat) (less than 2%)
  • Arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) (less than 2%)
  • Phlebitis (inflammation of the veins) (less than 2%)
  • Hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar) and hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) (less than 2%)
  • Gout (less than 2%)
  • Weight gain (less than 2%)
  • Anaemia (less than 2%)
  • Thrombocytopenia (low platelets in the bloodstream) (less than 2%)
  • Petechia (bleeding into the skin from broken capillary vessels, forming small spotty discolourations on the skin) (less than 2%)
  • Ecchymosis (bruising discolouration caused by bleeding beneath the skin) (less than 2%)
  • Pharyngolaryngeal pain (inflammation) and a hoarse voice (1-4%)
  • Insomnia (1-5%)
Other common effects a doctor may pick up on include:
  • Increased serum transaminase levels (alanine aminotransferase / ALT, aspartate transaminase / AST)
  • Increased blood bilirubin
  • Elevated levels of blood serum alkaline phosphatase
  • Increased levels of creatine phosphokinase
3. Some other adverse reactions to note but which do not have a defined frequency (‘incidence unknown’) include:
  • Increased thirst
  • Black / tarry stool
  • Cloudy or bloody urine
  • Difficulties with night vision (seeing at night)
  • Sensitivity to light (vision disturbances)
  • Excessive muscle tension or tone
  • Increased body movements
  • Sensitivity to touch or pain
  • Breath changes – fruit-like odour
  • Pain in the groin area or scrotum
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Low sex drive, desire or ability
  • Menstrual bleeding abnormalities (menstrual periods becoming irregular or longer bleeding)
  • Pale skin complexion
  • Slurred speech
  • Swollen lymph glands (in the neck, armpit or groin)
  • Abnormal bleeding or bruising
  • Increased nervousness
  • Paranoia
  • Weight loss
4. Adverse reactions which require urgent medical attention
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Wheezing
  • Swelling affecting the facial area, lips, tongue and throat
  • Hives (allergic reaction)
  • Unexplained muscle pain, tenderness and weakness
  • Fever
  • Extreme tiredness / fatigue
  • Dark coloured urine
  • Fainting / syncope (loss of consciousness)
5. Signs which may signal problems with the liver and thus require prompt medical evaluation include:
  • Upper stomach pain
  • Body weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dark coloured urine
  • Jaundice
6. Signs which may signal problems with the kidneys and thus require prompt medical evaluation include:
  • Decreased urination (little to none)
  • Swollen feet and ankles (fluid retention)
  • Fatigue and drowsiness
  • Shortness of breath
7. Signs of overdose
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Elevated potassium levels (K+) in the blood
  • Diarrhoea
  • Myopathy
  • Rhabdomyolysis
  • Acute renal failure / acute renal injury (decreased urination, fluid retention, drowsiness, shortness of breath, fatigue, confusion, nausea, chest pain or pressure and seizures)
  • Eye lens opacities, such as cataracts
  • Elevations indicated in liver function tests

Signs of over-dosage must be evaluated by a medical professional as soon as possible. Once a thorough evaluation has taken place, a doctor is likely to treat a patient in a supportive manner according to the combination of overdose symptoms displayed. There is no specific / set treatment procedure for Atorvastatin / Lipitor medication overdose.

PREVIOUS How to use Atorvastatin (Lipitor)
NEXT Discontinuation and withdrawal of Atorvastatin (Lipitor)