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Pravachol (pravastatin) is a statin drug used to lower cholesterol levels, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke. The medication may be used in patients as young as 8 years old.
High cholesterol typically does not have any symptoms; the only way to know cholesterol levels with any certainty is to have blood tests done. The term 'high cholesterol' refers to low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is often referred to as 'bad cholesterol'. While very high LDL levels are associated with cardiovascular disease, 'bad' is a bit of a misnomer; the body needs cholesterol to maintain healthy cells. For this reason it is important to have cholesterol levels checked and high cholesterol diagnosed prior to initiating treatment with Pravachol or any other cholesterol-reducing medication.
Pravachol is administered via tablet to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol and raise levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. It is typically prescribed after lifestyle adjustments, such as eating a low cholesterol diet and engaging in regular exercise, have proven ineffective on their own. A low-cholesterol diet is important to maintain throughout treatment for maximum effectiveness of the medication.
Pravachol may be used on its own or with other cholesterol-reducing medications, such as cholestyramine or colestipol, both of which inhibit bile reabsorption. Use of other cholesterol-reducing medications may impact the dosage strength and administration schedule of Pravachol; for example, Pravachol should be taken at least 1 hour before or 4 hours after cholestyramine or colestipol. Other medications unrelated to cholesterol management may also influence treatment.
Similar to other medications, other major medical conditions---even if unrelated to cholesterol levels---may require dosage adjustments.
In otherwise healthy patients dosage is typically as follows:
It will take about one month of daily treatment for maximum benefits to be seen at any given dosage level. Cholesterol levels should be checked after 4 weeks to determine effectiveness, at which time dosage may be adjusted if needed. Once an effective dosage has been found blood tests do not need to be as frequent, but they still should be regular to ensure the medication is continuing to work as intended. Regular checkups will also help detect any developing side effects.
Pravachol tablets should be taken at the same time each day if possible. missed doses should be taken as soon as remembered. A full glass of fluid is recommended with each dose; food is optional. Products containing grapefruit should be avoided as these may reduce the medication's effectiveness.
Precautions & Adverse reactions
The vast majority of patients can take Pravachol, though those with other medical conditions may need to take lower doses. An important exception is patients with a history of liver disease; these patients may be at greater risk of serious side effects and should discuss potential risks with a doctor before starting treatment.
Women who are pregnant or breast feeding should not take Pravachol. The medication may cause birth defects or interfere with the baby's ability to metabolize lipids.
The most common side effects from Pravachol, though still rare, are typically mild:
Occasionally more serious adverse effects develop; regular doctor checkups will help screen for these and catch them early. Warning signs which warrant medical attention include:
Pravachol may interact with a number of other medications, both those designed to help lower cholesterol and those that are completely unrelated. Check with a doctor or pharmacist before mixing medications if unsure of the consequences.
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Medicines have benefits and some have risks. Always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist or you have side effects see your health professional.
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