Lovastatin: 6 things you should know
Medically reviewed by C. Fookes, BPharm Last updated on Aug 28, 2018.
1. How it works
- Lovastatin works by blocking an enzyme in the liver known as HMG-CoA reductase that is responsible for the conversion of HMG-CoA to mevalonate, an important substance necessary for the synthesis of cholesterol and coenzyme Q10.
- Lovastatin also boosts the breakdown of lipids.
- Lovastatin belongs to a group of drugs known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors. It may also be called a statin.
- Lovastatin, in conjunction with dietary measures, is used to lower total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol in people at increased risk of cardiovascular disease if initial dietary measures fail to lower their cholesterol.
- Lovastatin is also used to reduce the risk of heart attack, unstable angina, and revascularization procedures in people with moderately elevated total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol, and low HDL-cholesterol.
- Lovastatin may also slow the progression of atherosclerosis in people with preexisting coronary heart disease.
- Lovastatin is also indicated in some genetic lipid disorders (such as heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia) in adolescents aged 10 to 17 meeting certain criteria.
If you are between the ages of 18 and 60, take no other medication or have no other medical conditions, side effects you are more likely to experience include:
- Gastrointestinal side effects (such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, flatulence, nausea), muscle pain, headache, and dizziness.
- Lovastatin, like other statins, may affect liver function, manifesting as changes in liver function tests (more than three times the upper limit of normal) or jaundice requiring dosage reduction or discontinuation.
- Rarely, severe muscle pain and rhabdomyolysis (a breakdown in muscle tissue) have been reported. Risk is greater in people taking more than 30mg lovastatin per day, older than 65, taking certain medications (for example cyclosporine, itraconazole, HIV antivirals, grapefruit juice), who drink more than two alcoholic drinks per day, or who have a low body weight or with certain medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, diabetes, kidney or liver disease.
- Rarely, lovastatin has been associated with memory loss, forgetfulness, amnesia, memory impairment, and confusion. These symptoms typically resolve with discontinuation.
- May interact with some other medications including amiodarone, danazol, diltiazem, dronedarone, and verapamil. Should not be taken with cyclosporine or gemfibrozil or other lipid-lowering agents.
- Grapefruit juice may enhance the effects and the side effects of lovastatin.
- High dosages of lovastatin are not recommended in kidney disease.
Notes: In general, seniors or children, people with certain medical conditions (such as liver or kidney problems, heart disease, diabetes, seizures) or people who take other medications are more at risk of developing a wider range of side effects. For a complete list of all side effects, click here.
- Take lovastatin with the evening meal. Do not take with grapefruit juice or grapefruit products.
- Seek urgent medical advice if you develop any acute severe muscle pain.
- Adhere to the TLC diet, designed by the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP), or a similar diet, while taking lovastatin.
- Regular exercise is also important as well as avoiding smoking.
- Dosage needs to be individualized and should be guided by the results of cholesterol tests taken 2 to 4 weeks later.
- See your doctor straight away if you notice any yellowing of your skin or shortness of breath, unexplained cough or general tiredness.
6. Response and Effectiveness
- Lovastatin is converted to its active form after oral administration. Peak levels are seen within two hours following administration; however, it may take one to two weeks of regular dosing before improvements in your cholesterol level are seen, and up to four weeks before the maximal cholesterol-lowering effects of lovastatin are apparent.
- Lowers LDL-cholesterol and apolipoprotein B.
- Secondary reasons for abnormally high cholesterol levels (such as uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, low thyroid levels, alcoholism, liver disease) should be ruled out before starting lovastatin.
Lovastatin [Package Insert]. Revised 06/2018. Mylan Institutional Inc. https://www.drugs.com/pro/lovastatin.html
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use lovastatin only for the indication prescribed.
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More about lovastatin
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- Drug class: statins
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