What is Lovastatin?
Lovastatin is a generic medication marketed under the Mevacor, Altocor and Altoprev brand names. This generic drug is in a class of medications called 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors, more commonly known as statins. These medications reduce the amount of cholesterol, and other fatty substances, in the blood by affecting the liver and blocking an enzyme that it needs to produce cholesterol. It is essential in the prevention of common medical problems caused by clogged blood vessels, such as strokes and heart attacks. Lovastatin may also help prevent or slow down the progression of certain cardiovascular problems, specifically coronary atherosclerosis, for at-risk individuals.
Lovastatin is a naturally occurring substance found in foods such as oyster mushrooms and red yeast rice. However, the lovastatin prescribed by your doctor is a synthesized form produced in medical laboratories. The drug was approved by the FDA in August 1987 and is available as tablets (10, 20 and 40 mg) and extended release tablets (10, 20, 40 and 60 mg), either as generic or as brand names: Altoperv and Mevacor.
Lovastatin medications are most effective at lowering cholesterol when used in conjunction with regular exercise and a heart-healthy diet that is low in saturated fat, sugar and cholesterol. These drugs are usually prescribed after diet and exercise alone have failed to sufficiently lower the amount of “bad” cholesterol in the blood. Lowering this “bad” cholesterol helps to prevent fatty substances from building up along the walls of the blood vessels. If left unchecked, this buildup of fatty substances may restrict blood and oxygen flow to the body, resulting in life threatening conditions such as heart attack or stroke.
Lovastatin is available in both regular and extended release tablets. Regular lovastatin tablets are taken once or twice a day with meals, while the extended release tablets are taken just once a day – usually at bedtime. Regardless of which type of lovastatin tablet your doctor prescribes, it is important to take the drug exactly as directed and at the same time each day. Swallow extended release lovastatin tablets whole; never split, crush or chew them. Most importantly, never change your dosage or stop taking your lovastatin medication without consulting the prescribing doctor.
How does lovastatin work?
Lovastatin is metabolized in the liver where the primary action takes place. It reduces the production of cholesterol by blocking the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase in the liver, which is needed to produce cholesterol. This results in a reduced low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides. LDL cholesterol predisposes a person to developing coronary artery disease, hence is often tagged as “bad cholesterol”. By controlling blood LDL cholesterol levels, coronary artery disease may be prevented and may even be treated.
Aside from reducing LDL cholesterol, lovastatin also increases high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol which is thought to be “good cholesterol”. Studies show that HDL cholesterol protects an individual against coronary artery disease by sweeping out excess cholesterol preventing clogged blood vessels. This type of cholesterol seems to scour the blood vessel lining preventing ‘plaque’ formation.
How do I take this drug?
Lovastatin is a prescription drug hence it is very important to take it exactly as directed by your healthcare provider.
- The Oral dose of lovastatin is normally taken with meals once or twice a day.
- As much possible, take the medication around the same time of the day to achieve desired drug serum levels.
- Lovastatin in extended-release tablet form is usually taken at bedtime. Do not crush, split, chew, or remove the cover of the extended-release tablet. It should be taken whole with a full glass of water.
Initially, the physician prescribes low dose of lovastatin then gradually increasing, every month or so. Do not adjust the dose, change or discontinue the medication without consulting your healthcare provider. Continue taking the drug even if you think you are well.
What are the important things to remember while on lovastatin treatment?
- Regular visits to your physician are necessary to monitor your progress. This allows your physician to evaluate your condition and adjust the dose if necessary. Laboratory tests may be done during visits to prevent unwanted effects of the drug.
- Discuss with your physician any plans of becoming pregnant as lovastatin can cause harm on the developing fetus. If you become pregnant while on lovastatin, inform your physician right away. Use of an effective birth control method may be recommended during treatment.
- Inform your doctor of any and all drugs that you are currently taking. There are some medications that have known drug interactions with lovastatin such as certain antibiotics and HIV/AIDs medications.
- Avoid using OTC drugs, vitamins or herbal products without approval from your healthcare provider.
- Tell your doctor if you have allergy on lovastatin or on any other drugs.
- If you develop adverse side effects while on this drug (diarrhea dark-colored urine; fatigue; fever; muscle tenderness, pain or stiffness; muscle spasms or cramps), contact your physician immediately.
- Most importantly, lovastatin is not a substitute to healthy living. This medication is intended to be used along with proper diet and regular exercise.