The short answer:
Atorvastatin belongs to a class of medications called statins which are known to decrease the expression of satiety factors such as leptin. However, no clear evidence that atorvastatin could cause weight gain or even weight loss.
- Atorvastatin belongs to a group of medications known as statin which are prescribed to lower blood cholesterol levels. It is the generic name for the brand name Lipitor.
- It is used to lower blood LDL levels for patients with a high risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- It works by reducing the production of endogenous cholesterol in the liver and increasing LDL accumulation in the liver thus, the blood LDL level is decreased.
- No evidence that taking atorvastatin could lead to weight gain or weight loss.
- The common side effects of atorvastatin include nausea, diarrhea, urinary tract infection, pain in the extremities, muscle pain, and insomnia.
- Stooping atorvastatin could increase your blood cholesterol levels and thus increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
What is atorvastatin and what are its indications?
Atorvastatin belongs to a group of medications known as statins which are used to lower blood cholesterol levels.
- Atorvastatin is indicated for patients with hyperlipidemia, hypertriglyceridemia, and hypercholesterolemia
- It decreases the accumulation of LDL (bad cholesterol) in the walls of the arteries which could block the blood flow to the brain, heart, and other body organs. Therefore, it is indicated to reduce the risk of diseases such as myocardial infarction (MI), stroke, and angina
- Atorvastatin can be used as a prophylaxis therapy for myocardial infarction, stroke, revascularization, and angina, in patients without coronary heart disease but with multiple risk factors and also in patients with diabetes mellitus type 2 without coronary heart disease but multiple risk factors.
- It may be used for children and teenagers (10-17 years) with familial heterozygous hypercholesterolemia which is an inherited health problem in which cholesterol cannot be normally removed from your body.
How does atorvastatin work to lower cholesterol?
Atorvastatin decreased blood cholesterol levels through the following :
- It slows down the production of endogenous cholesterol in the liver.
Atorvastatin acts by competitively inhibiting 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase. This enzyme is the key enzyme in cholesterol biosynthesis. It is required to convert 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) into mevalonate which is critical for cholesterol production. Therefore the production of cholesterol in the liver is decreased (Ref).
- Increase the liver’s ability to remove LDL from the blood by increasing the number of LDL receptors on the surface of hepatic cells (Ref).
Mechanism of action of atorvastatin
Does atorvastatin cause weight gain?
No sufficient evidence that atorvastatin administration can increase your risk of gaining weight.
Despite the fact that atorvastatin belongs to a group of medications known as statins which are known to decrease the expression of satiety factors such as leptin and therefore are associated with weight gain. However, no clear evidence that atorvastatin could cause weight gain.
A study published in 2014 showed that caloric and fat intake increased among statins users which was not reported among nonusers. Moreover, the increase in body mass index (BMI) was faster with statin users than with nonusers. The authors recommended that dietary composition may need to be emphasized for those who use statins.
The increase in calorie intake among statin users could be explained based on the following:
- Statins are reported to decrease the expression of satiety factors such as leptin (adipocyte-derived adipokine). Therefore, a decrease in leptin expression by statins could increase food intake in statin users (Ref).
- The high fat and calorie intake with people taking atorvastatin could be due to the misunderstanding that atorvastatin could balance out the negative effects of the high fat and calorie meals.
What are the most common side effects of atorvastatin?
The most common side effects of atorvastatin include
- Pain especially in extremities such as legs or arms
- Infection commonly, urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Muscle pain
- Musculoskeletal pain
1. Are atorvastatin and Lipitor the same and which is better?
Atorvastatin is the generic name for the brand name Lipitor. Both have the same active ingredients and are safe and effective in lowering blood cholesterol levels.
The generic drug is an exact copy of the brand one, therefore, the generic is as effective as the brand one.
2. Can you lose weight while taking atorvastatin?
No, taking atorvastatin doesn’t affect your weight.
There is no clear evidence that atorvastatin could lead to weight loss or weight gain. However, you may experience weight change if you don’t take it with a balanced diet.
3. Can I stop taking atorvastatin if my cholesterol is normal?
It is not recommended to stop atorvastatin even if your cholesterol is normal. This could your cholesterol blood levels to increase again which accordingly increases your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Atorvastatin and other statins are used to lower the LDL cholesterol (the bad one). However, their effect diminishes after you stop taking them.
4. Can you stop taking atorvastatin suddenly?
No, you should stop atorvastatin suddenly.
Atorvastatin shouldn’t be stopped unless your doctor prescribes another cholesterol-lower agent.
Sudden withdrawal of atorvastatin could increase your LDL blood levels and this could increase your risk of cardiovascular diseases.
A study showed that the risk of a stroke, heart attack, and even death significantly increased 4 years post statin cessation.