Simvastatin and Alcohol
In general, alcohol does not directly interact with simvastatin (Zocor). However, the possible effects of chronic alcohol drinking while taking simvastatin have not been fully evaluated. As such, drinking alcohol while on simvastatin is not without danger. Patients are advised to inform their healthcare provider if they consume more than 2 alcoholic beverages per day, have history of alcohol abuse or have liver problems.
An animal study conducted to evaluate the potential interaction between alcohol and simvastatin suggests that a moderate amount of alcohol taken daily together with simvastatin is not likely to cause adverse effects. In addition, taking simvastatin reduces the potential alcohol-induced increase in triglycerides and AST (a liver enzyme).
For most people, drinking a moderate amount of alcohol is not expected to cause problems. However, patients with chronic alcohol problems or those who regularly drink large amounts of alcohol are at increased risk of adverse effects, particularly liver impairment. Simvastatin may not be safe for this special population.
Patients with liver impairment may have problems metabolizing and excreting simvastatin which can lead to abnormally high drug levels in the blood. Compared to people with healthy liver, patients with liver disease are at an increased risk of experiencing side effects as well as liver toxicity. Because of this, simvastatin and other statin drugs are contraindicated in people with underlying liver impairment (such as alcoholic liver or liver cirrhosis).
Meanwhile, patients who consume large quantities of alcohol or have history of liver disease should take simvastatin with caution. Excessive amounts of alcohol together with simvastatin can cause liver impairment or a relapse of past liver disease. Close medical supervision is recommended in such patients to prevent any potential problems. Periodic liver function tests may be necessary.
Most probably, a glass of wine on rare occasions would not send a patient speeding to the Emergency Department, but since alcohol can lead to adverse effects, anything more than that is discouraged. If you intend to drink alcohol while on simvastatin, you should discuss it with your healthcare provider. He or she will have to evaluate your overall health, more particularly, your liver function to prevent any possible problem. Additionally, some patients may have other underlying medical conditions that warrant alcohol restriction.
Feel free to talk with your physician about simvastatin and alcohol consumption. Since each patient is in a different situation, it is your healthcare provider who is in the best position to give you recommendations regarding your alcohol consumption.