Pravastatin, a statin medication sold under the brand name Pravachol is used as a preventative measure to cardiovascular disease. Used together with diet changes and exercise, pravastatin is one of the most prescribed medications in the United States.
- How does pravastatin work?
- What time of day should I take pravastatin?
- What are the side effects of pravastatin?
- How long does pravastatin take to work?
- How long does pravastatin stay in your system?
- What is the right pravastatin dosage for me?
- What should I avoid while taking pravastatin?
- How much does pravastatin cost?
- Can I drink alcohol while taking pravastatin?
- What is the difference between pravastatin and atorvastatin?
1. How does pravastatin work?
Pravastatin belongs to a class of drugs known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors or statins. These drugs, and pravastatin, work by slowing down the body’s production of cholesterol. In turn, this slows the build-up of cholesterol plaque in artery walls that could hinder blood flow and lead to cardiovascular problems. By taking pravastatin, along with making positive lifestyle changes, patients can reduce their risk of strokes, heart attacks, and heart disease.
2. What time of day should I take pravastatin?
You should always take pravastatin in the evening to ensure it is as effective as possible. The reason for this is the increased production of cholesterol in the body that occurs at night. The good news for patients is that pravastatin is very gentle on the stomach. This means that it does not matter if you take it with or without food.
3. What are the side effects of pravastatin?
Pravastatin may potentially cause side effects ranging from mild to severe. The list below includes some of the most common side effects but is not a complete list. Mild side effects may go away after a few days or weeks of consistent medication-taking, but if they persist or worsen you should speak with your doctor.
Common side effects:
- Cold-like symptoms
- Joint pain
Severe side effects:
- Muscle weakness in your neck or back
- Difficulty lifting your arms
- Difficulty standing up
- Signs of jaundice (yellow eyes and/or skin)
- Extreme fatigue
If you experience any of these serious side effects, you should speak with your doctor or seek immediate medical attention if it is an emergency.
In some rare cases, patients can experience allergic reactions. Seek emergency medical care if you experience any of the following symptoms after taking pravastatin.
- Skin rash
- Tightness in the throat or chest
- Difficulty talking or breathing
- Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
4. How long does pravastatin take to work?
Within just a couple of hours of taking pravastatin, it reaches peak concentration within the body. However, patients often need to take pravastatin consistently for a couple of weeks before seeing reduced cholesterol levels. Furthermore, the maximum effects of pravastatin will typically not be seen until patients have been taking the drug consistently for a month.
5. How long does pravastatin stay in your system?
The half-life of pravastatin is 2.3 to 3.2 hours in most adults. The half-life of a drug is the time it takes the body to eliminate half of it. It will normally take somewhere between 5 and 6 half-lives before pravastatin is entirely cleared from your system. This means that on average, pravastatin remains in the body for 15 hours days before being eliminated.
6. What is the right pravastatin dosage for me?
The proper dosage of pravastatin will vary between patients. You must always follow your doctor’s instructions or the directions on the label. The following information contains typical doses of pravastatin.
- Adults: 40mg daily, adjusted as necessary by your doctor
- Children: 20-40mg daily, prescribed based on height and weight by your doctor
It’s also important to note if you miss a dose of pravastatin, you should take it as soon as you can. If it is nearly time for your next dose, you should skip the missed dose and maintain your typical dosing schedule. You should never take more than one dose of pravastatin at a time.
7. What should I avoid while taking pravastatin?
Since the goal of taking pravastatin is to reduce cholesterol levels, it is key that patients avoid eating foods that are high in fat or cholesterol. Eating these foods will reduce the effectiveness of pravastatin. You should avoid eating grapefruit as it can interact with pravastatin and lead to unpleasant side effects. This means you should also avoid the use of any products containing grapefruit. If possible, patients should also avoid red yeast rice products while taking pravastatin, as they contain a similar structure to lovastatin, a drug in the same family as pravastatin.
8. How much does pravastatin cost?
As with most drugs, the cost of pravastatin is not always straightforward. It will largely depend on the location of the insurance of the patient. That said, the US cash price is usually around $7.50 for a supply of 45 20mg tablets. This will last most patients roughly three weeks. This brings the average monthly cost to just below $10.
9. Can I drink alcohol while taking pravastatin?
It is not recommended that patients taking pravastatin drink alcohol. Although they do not interact directly, heavy drinking may lead to a higher risk of adverse effects. This is because consuming alcohol can increase triglyceride levels. In turn, leading to liver damage. Furthermore, excessive consumption of either alcohol or pravastatin can cause liver damage. If you do intend to drink alcohol while taking pravastatin anyways, you must first speak with your doctor.
10. What is the difference between pravastatin and atorvastatin?
Patients often wonder what the difference between pravastatin and atorvastatin is. This is a very valid question and they do belong to the same class of drugs. Atorvastatin, also sold under the brand name Lipitor, is a much stronger statin. This means it is highly effective when it comes to lowering cholesterol, due to its greater ability to reduce LDL (bad cholesterol). However, the side effects can be far stronger than those of pravastatin. For this reason, pravastatin may be used as a first course of action, followed by atorvastatin only if your doctor deems it necessary.
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