Mevacor is the brand name for the heart drug lovastatin. It is a prescription-only medication that is used to help lower high blood cholesterol levels (hypercholesterolemia). High levels of cholesterol may lead to clogged arteries due to the build up of fatty plaques, which is a major risk factor for developing coronary heart disease. Mevacor is used under medical supervision, along with diet and other lifestyle factors to reduce the effects of, or slow the the build up of cholesterol. Lovastatin works by blocking an enzyme that is needed by the body to make cholesterol, thereby reducing the amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream.
There is also ground breaking new research that lovastatin may be beneficial to sufferers of the fatal asbestos-related lung disease mesothelioma. You can find out more information on this here.
What is the most important fact about Lovastatin (Mevacor) ?
Mevacor is only available on prescription, and is normally recommended only after other non-drug related forms of treatment such as diet and exercise have failed to reduce your high cholesterol levels. It is very important to understand that lovastatin is a supplementary treatment that must be used in a continuing regimen of weight control, physical activity and reduction of dietary fat, sugar and cholesterol intake.
What factors should I discuss with my healthcare provider ?
You should alert your doctor if you are sensitive to any medications, especially similar statins or other cholesterol lowering drugs.
If you are about to have an operation you should not take lovastatin, and if you are already taking it, you should stop taking it a few days before your visit to the hospital. If you drink large amounts of alcohol or have previously suffered from any liver problems you should mention this to your doctor.
If you are already suffering any condition that is linked to high cholesterol, then your doctor may want to track your reaction to using the drug more carefully. These conditions include, but may not be limited to :
- liver disease
- nephrotic syndrome (a complaint of the kidneys and blood vessels)
- dysproteinemia (an excess of protein in the blood)
You should inform your doctor if you notice any unusual problems with your muscles, such as pain or weakness, which may accompanied by a high temperature or feeling of nausea. This is because there is an increased risk of damage to your muscle tissue if you are receiving doses of lovastatin. It may be necessary for you to have a blood test to detect whether you are developing muscle related problems.
Your doctor may recommended that you have occasional tests (3 or 6 monthly) performed on your liver to monitor it’s continued healthy functioning whilst you are taking lovastatin, or increasing you daily dose of the drug.
How should I take Lovastatin ?
Mevacor is supplied in tablet form, and should be taken with food. After use, it should be stored at normal room temperature, away from light, and in an airtight container if not blister packaged.
The normal starting dose is 20mg of mevacor, to be taken with the evening meal, although doctors sometimes prescribe a lower starting dose of 10mg. The maximum daily dose is 80mg which may be taken in one dose or split into two or three smaller doses. If any change of dosage is required this is done at a minimum of 4 weeks since tha last change.
Lovastatin and pregnancy – Special information if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
It is most important that you DO NOT take Lovastatin if you are pregnant, or breastfeeding. This is because the drug can harm your unborn child, or pass into breast milk, and may have an adverse effect on a nursing baby.
Note – You should only take Mevacor if you are unlikely to get pregnant. If you are already taking Lovastatin, and become pregnant, you should see your doctor, who will almost certainly advise you to immediately discontinue it.
Side effects of lovastatin
Any drug may have potential side effects. The side effects associated with lovastatin are relatively uncommon, and usually mild and not long lasting. You should contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following potential side effects, whilst taking mevacor :
abdominal pain or cramping
muscle pain, or weakness with rash
diarrhea or constipation
headache or nausea
indigestion or heartburn
Missed dose instructions
If you forget to take your medicine you should take it immediately you discover it. If it is nearly time to take your next scheduled dose, you should skip the missed dose and take the next scheduled dose. Do not take 2 doses simultaneously to try and ‘catch up’.
There have been no reported cases of overdose with Mevacor. However, if you suspect an overdose, seek medical attention immediately.
Drug reactions – specific warnings about Lovastatin
There are warnings about Possible food and drug interactions when taking Lovastatin.
Warfarin – this medication may increase the blood-thinning properties of warfarin.
Additionally, any of the following drugs, or large quantities of grapefruit juice, can potentially cause a negative interaction that may cause muscle pain, and potential kidney damage, when used in combination with mevacor. The drugs highlighted in red below may cause your doctor to stop your intake of lovastatin :
Nicotinic acid or niacin
Protease inhibitors (a type of drug for HIV) such as amprenavir, indinavir, nelfinavir, ritonavir, and saquinavir