A generic version of better known branded Lipostat, Pravastatin is a high cholesterol medicine that is commonly prescribed throughout the United Kingdom. As a generic medicine, Pravastatin is bioequivalent to Lipostat meaning that it relies on the same mechanism of action in order to achieve the same effects.

What’s on this page?

More specifically, Pravastatin will directly interfere with the cholesterol production in the liver, reducing it and thus contributing to the overall lowering of cholesterol levels in the body. By doing so, this medicine will at the same time reduce the risk of associated conditions such as heart attack or stroke. Based on the active ingredient of the same name, Pravastatin is manufactured and marketed by Teva pharmaceutical company.

What is high cholesterol and how is it diagnosed?

Cholesterol is a relatively common condition which is not surprising since many harmful lifestyle habits and practices characteristic of the modern man have been marked as significant contributing factors. However, contrary to popular belief, cholesterol doesn’t produce any symptoms in itself and cannot be diagnosed without medical testing for that condition specifically.

On the other hand, when left untreated, high cholesterol can cause further complications and illnesses affecting cardiovascular and respiratory systems. But, what exactly is cholesterol?

Understanding ‘bad cholesterol’

Cholesterol is just a common name for a type of fat called low density lipoprotein (or LDL for short). Commonly called ‘bad cholesterol’, LDL isn’t harmful – on the contrary, it is a substance that is absolutely essential for maintaining structural integrity of the cellular tissue. While cholesterol can be absorbed from food via the small intestine, the vast majority is produced by the body in the liver. There, lipids join with proteins which help them travel throughout the body until they reach the cells that will use the lipids for their metabolic and cellular processes.

However, if there is an excess of LDL, the cells simply won’t have enough time to use it up and cholesterol will begin accumulating in the blood vessels, eventually causing them to narrow. Restricted blood flow will usually follow as a result of this process and the heart will be forced to work with more force in order to pump the blood efficiently. With this additional strain on the cardiovascular system, the risk of developing cardiovascular or respiratory issues increases.

What causes high cholesterol?

There is a significant level of consensus within the medical community when it comes to the claim that hereditary and genetic predispositions play an important role in the possible development of high cholesterol in individuals. However, there is an even greater agreement concerning the thesis that lifestyle factors play an even greater role – in other words, people with genetic predisposition for high cholesterol, but with healthy lifestyles are still significantly less likely to get affected as compared to those without family history of high cholesterol, but with numerous harmful practices and habits.

As of now, there are strong indications that diet rich in saturated fats, as well as excessive alcohol consumption, smoking and lack of exercise act as major contributors to the onset of this condition in otherwise healthy individuals. In some cases, conditions such as diabetes and even high blood pressure can cause the levels of cholesterol to rise.

Treating and managing high cholesterol

Once this condition is diagnosed, the first thing that the doctor will recommend is to make an effort to change your harmful habits. This includes a healthier and more balanced diet (a dietary plan will usually be developed and recommended by a doctor), quitting smoking, limiting alcohol consumption and introducing some light exercise into your daily routine.

However, while this approach can be efficient in early discovered and mild cases of high cholesterol, in those situations where the lipids have already accumulated to a certain extent, prescription medicines might be necessary to keep the condition under control. Keep in mind that medicines are used in addition to lifestyle changes, so you will have to adhere to the dietary and exercise programme over the course of the treatment.

Pravastatin in high cholesterol treatment

Pravastatin is a drug belonging to a class of pharmaceutical compounds called statins and it is a generic version of branded Lipostat. All statins, including medications such as Fluvastatin, Zocor or Lipitor all share the same mechanism of action and are usually considered to be first-choice solutions for high cholesterol. As such, Pravastatin acts by inhibiting the activity of a specialised liver enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase. As it is a substance integral for the conversion process that results in cholesterol production in the liver, when this enzyme’s activity is limited, the levels of cholesterol will also begin to drop.

How is Pravastatin used?

Here we will provide you with a rather general and short illustration of how Pravastatin treatment will look like. Please keep in mind that this is not intended to be used as a guideline.

  • Always take as directed
  • The usual starting dose is one tablet per day, most commonly in the dosage of 10 or 20mg, depending on your susceptibility to side effects
  • Take the tablets whole, ideally with a glass of water
  • It is recommended to take the pills at roughly the same time each day
  • Over the course of the treatment, your doctor will monitor your reaction to the medicine and increase the dose if needed
  • Your cholesterol levels will have to be carefully monitored over the course of the treatment
  • Never exceed the prescribed amount
  • If you miss a dose you can still take it as long as there is more than four hours until the next one
  • If there is less than four hours until the next does, just skip the missed one and continue with the treatment as usual

Are there any Pravastatin side effects?

Naturally, not everybody using Pravastatin will experience side effects, but it is still important to learn about them as much as you can prior to commencing treatment. This way, you can avoid unnecessary stress and easily differentiate between those side effects which might require you to halt treatment and ask for medical assistance and those which are maybe uncomfortable, but otherwise completely harmless.

You should immediately contact the emergency services if you notice any signs and symptoms indicative of:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Muscle pain, tenderness or weakness
  • High temperature

Other side effects that you should keep in mind include:

Frequency of occurrence Side effects
Uncommon (1 in 100 users) Dizziness, tiredness, headache, insomnia, blurred vision, indigestion, itching, pimples, hives, sexual difficulties, hair loss, muscle and joint pain, bladder issues
Very rare (1 in 10.000 users) Tingling or burning sensations or numbness in the extremities, lupus-like symptoms, abnormal blood tests, inflammation of the liver or pancreas

Keep in mind that this is not a complete list of known side effects – for a more comprehensive overview, please refer to the official patient information leaflet.

Is Pravastatin safe for me? Pravastatin contraindications

As is the case with all prescription medications, Pravastatin isn’t suitable for everybody and there are some scenarios when its use will be contraindicated. This can be the case, for example, if you are currently taking some other medicines that might adversely interact with it. These include:

  • Other cholesterol treatments
  • Fibrates
  • Products containing nicotinic acid
  • Resin-type drugs

Alternatively, some other medical condition might make Pravastatin use dangerous for you. The conditions to be aware of include:

  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Muscle disorder caused by a hereditary condition

Finally, Pravastatin should not be used by women who are pregnant, are trying to conceive or are currently breastfeeding.