Lipitor (atorvastatin) is a brand-name prescription medication. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved it to help decrease:
- cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol, including children ages 10 years to 17 years old with a genetic condition called familial hypercholesterolemia
- triglyceride levels in adults with high triglycerides
- the risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack, stroke, or the need for heart surgery in certain adults
Lipitor comes as an oral tablet. It belongs to a drug class called HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, also known as statin drugs.
For information about the dosage of Lipitor, including its strengths and how to take the drug, keep reading. For a comprehensive look at Lipitor, see this article.
This article describes typical dosages for Lipitor provided by the drug’s manufacturer. When taking Lipitor, always follow the dosage prescribed by your doctor.
Before you start treatment with Lipitor, your doctor will recommend the best dosage for you.
Lipitor comes as an oral tablet.
Lipitor comes in the following strengths:
- 10 milligrams (mg)
- 20 mg
- 40 mg
- 80 mg
Your doctor will typically start your treatment with a low dosage. Then they may adjust it over time to reach the amount that’s right for you. Your doctor will ultimately prescribe the smallest dosage that provides the desired effect.
The following information describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. However, be sure to follow the dosing guidelines your doctor prescribes for you. Your doctor will determine the best dosage to fit your needs.
Dosage for high cholesterol
The recommended starting dose of Lipitor for high cholesterol is 10 mg to 20 mg taken once daily. This is likely the lowest dose that your doctor will recommend you take. If you have very high cholesterol, your doctor may recommend starting your treatment with a dosage of 40 mg once daily.
Your doctor will likely recommend a blood test to check your cholesterol levels within 2 to 4 weeks of starting Lipitor. If Lipitor isn’t working to manage your cholesterol levels, your doctor may recommend increasing your dose to 80 mg. This is the maximum (highest) dose of Lipitor.
If you’re taking Lipitor to treat certain types of familial hypercholesterolemia, or other genetic conditions that cause high cholesterol, your doctor may recommend taking Lipitor with other medications. This is to help decrease your cholesterol levels further. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment options for you.
Dosage for helping to prevent cardiovascular disease
The recommended dosage range* of Lipitor to help prevent cardiovascular disease is 10 mg to 80 mg once daily. Your doctor may start your treatment with 10 mg once daily. Then, they may increase your dosage over time to best fit you.
Dosage for high triglycerides
The recommended dosage of Lipitor to treat high triglycerides is 10 mg to 80 mg once daily. Your doctor may recommend starting treatment with a lower dosage of 10 mg to 20 mg once daily.
Within a few weeks of starting treatment, your doctor may order a blood test to check your triglyceride levels. If Lipitor isn’t helping to manage your high triglycerides, your doctor may recommend a higher dosage of the medication. The maximum recommended dosage is 80 mg once daily.
* Any dose that’s within the recommended dosage range is considered a normal dose.
Lipitor is approved to treat familial hypercholesterolemia in children ages 10 years to 17 years old.
For this use, your child’s doctor will likely prescribe a dosage of 10 mg to 20 mg once daily. If needed, they’ll increase your child’s dose once every 4 weeks to effectively treat their condition.
Lipitor is meant to be taken as a long-term treatment. If you and your doctor determine that Lipitor is safe and effective for you, you’ll likely take it long term.
Below are some frequently asked questions that you may have about Lipitor and dosage.
What is Lipitor’s dosage range? Do doctors prescribe a 5-mg dose?
The typical dosage range of Lipitor is between 10 milligrams (mg) and 80 mg once daily. In most cases, the lowest dosage that doctors prescribe is 10 mg once daily. They don’t typically prescribe a 5-mg dose. This is because Lipitor does not come as a 5-mg tablet in the United States. The lowest strength it comes in is 10 mg.
Also, the manufacturer of Lipitor recommends swallowing your Lipitor tablet whole. So your doctor won’t typically recommend breaking the 10-mg tablet in half to take a 5-mg dose. (To learn more, see the “How to take Lipitor” section below.)
Before you start taking Lipitor, your doctor will recommend the best dosage for you. If you need a dosage below 10 mg once daily, your doctor may recommend a different treatment option for you.
Talk with your doctor if you’re concerned about your Lipitor dosage.
Are there side effects of missing a dose of Lipitor?
No, you shouldn’t experience any side effects* from missing a dose of Lipitor. This medication helps decrease cholesterol and triglyceride levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems. Since these conditions don’t typically cause any symptoms, you likely won’t notice any side effects from missing your dose.
However, it’s important to take your dose of Lipitor every day. This helps manage your condition over time.
If you’re not sure when to take your next dose of Lipitor after missing a dose, see the “Missed dose” section below. You can also talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
* To learn about side effects of Lipitor, see this article.
Is there a specific Lipitor dosage that’s prescribed for use in older adults?
There isn’t a specific dosage of Lipitor that’s recommended for older or elderly adults (ages 65 years or older).
In clinical trials of people taking Lipitor, the drug was just as safe and effective for older adults as it was for younger adults.
However, it’s possible for older adults to have an increased risk of side effects* from Lipitor. For example, older adults may experience muscle pain more often than younger adults. So doctors may be more cautious about prescribing high dosages of Lipitor in older adults.
If you have questions about your specific Lipitor dosage, talk with your doctor.
* To learn about side effects of Lipitor, see this article.
If you miss your dose of Lipitor and it has been less than 12 hours since your missed dose, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it’s more than 12 hours since you missed your dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at your regularly scheduled time.
If you missed your dose of Lipitor and have questions about when to take your next dose, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
The Lipitor dosage your doctor prescribes will depend on several factors. These include:
- the type and severity of the condition you’re taking Lipitor to treat
- other medications that you take along with Lipitor
Other medical conditions you have can also affect your Lipitor dosage.
If you’re taking certain medications that may interact* with Lipitor, your doctor may recommend a lower dose of Lipitor. Examples of these drugs may include:
- itraconazole (Sporanox)
- nelfinavir (Viracept)
Before you start taking Lipitor, tell your doctor about any other medications that you’re taking. Your doctor can help determine the best dosage of Lipitor for you.
* To learn more about the drugs Lipitor interacts with, see this article.
Lipitor comes as an oral tablet that you’ll swallow once daily with or without food. You should take your Lipitor tablets whole. Do not break them before swallowing them.
You should try to take Lipitor around the same time of day. This helps maintain a steady level of the drug in your body so Lipitor can work effectively.
If you have trouble swallowing tablets, see this article for tips on how to take this form of medication. You can also talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
ACCESSIBLE DRUG LABELS AND CONTAINERS
If you’re having trouble reading your prescription label, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. Some pharmacies offer labels with large print, braille, or a code you scan with a smartphone to convert text to speech. If your local pharmacy doesn’t have these options, your doctor or pharmacist might be able to recommend a pharmacy that does.
If you’re having trouble opening medication bottles, ask your pharmacist about putting Lipitor in an easy-open container. They also may recommend tools that can make it easier to open bottles.
It’s important that you don’t take more Lipitor than your doctor prescribes. For some medications, taking more than the recommended amount may lead to side effects or overdose.
If you take more than the recommended amount of Lipitor
Call your doctor right away if you believe you’ve taken too much Lipitor. Another option is to call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222 or use its online tool. If you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number, or go to the nearest emergency room.
The dosages in this article are typical dosages provided by the drug manufacturer. If your doctor recommends Lipitor for you, they will prescribe the dosage that’s right for you. Always follow the dosage that your doctor prescribes for you.
As with any drug, never change your dosage of Lipitor without your doctor’s recommendation. If you have questions about the dosage of Lipitor that’s best for you, talk with your doctor.
Besides learning about dosage, you may want other information about Lipitor. These additional articles might be helpful to you:
- More about Lipitor. For information about other aspects of Lipitor, refer to this article.
- Side effects. To learn about side effects of Lipitor, see this article. You can also look at the Lipitor prescribing information.
- Drug comparison. Find out how Lipitor compares with Crestor and Zocor.
- Interactions. For information about what Lipitor interacts with, see this article.
- Details about your condition. To learn more about your condition, see our cardiovascular hub and cholesterol hub. You can also learn how Lipitor affects cholesterol levels in this article.
Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.