Lovastatin vs Simvastatin Differences in Side Effects Dosage

Lovastatin vs Simvastatin Differences in Side Effects Dosage

lovastatin vs. simvastatin

Lovastatin and simvastatin are statin drugs that lower cholesterol levels and treat cardiovascular diseases. Simvastatin is more effective at reducing cholesterol than lovastatin. Lovastatin is typically used in combination with other medications or as an alternative for patients who cannot tolerate stronger statins.

Both medications have similar side effects, including headache, diarrhea, liver damage, muscle inflammation, and increased blood sugar levels. They also interact negatively with certain drugs such as blood thinners like warfarin.

While lovastatin should be taken with food to maximize its effectiveness, simvastatin can be taken regardless of meals.

What are lovastatin and simvastatin?

Lovastatin and simvastatin belong to the statin class of drugs, which includes atorvastatin, fluvastatin, rosuvastatin, and pravastatin. Statins lower LDL cholesterol, commonly known as "bad cholesterol," and are essential in preventing cardiovascular diseases.

Cholesterol plays a vital role in various bodily functions, but an excess of LDL can lead to artery blockages that cause heart attacks and strokes.

Statins inhibit the production of cholesterol in the liver by blocking the HMG-CoA enzyme. They also increase levels of HDL cholesterol, known as "good cholesterol," which helps remove LDL from the bloodstream.

What are the uses for lovastatin and simvastatin?

Lovastatin and simvastatin are used to treat high cholesterol, LDL, and triglyceride levels, and to elevate HDL cholesterol. They can help prevent angina, stroke, heart attack, congestive heart failure, and revascularization procedures in individuals with coronary artery disease. They also reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes in patients with type 2 diabetes who have multiple risk factors for coronary artery disease.

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What are the side effects of lovastatin and simvastatin?

The potential side effects of both medications are similar and include headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, muscle pain, and abnormal liver tests. Allergic reactions to lovastatin or simvastatin can also occur.

One concern with statins is liver damage, although it is rare. Regular liver tests are necessary, and if certain markers exceed normal levels, the medication will be discontinued. Another rare but serious side effect is rhabdomyolysis, which can cause kidney failure. Statins may also increase blood sugar levels.

How should lovastatin and simvastatin be taken (dosage)?


  • The recommended dose range for Mevacor is 10-80 mg daily, preferably taken in the evening.
  • The usual starting dose is 20 mg once daily, and the maximum dose is 80 mg daily.
  • Blood cholesterol levels are regularly monitored and adjustments in dosage can be made accordingly.


  • The recommended dose range for Zocor is 10-40 mg, taken once daily in the evening with or without food. High-risk patients can start with 40 mg daily, and the 80 mg dose is only given to those who tolerate it well.
  • If a patient requires a dose higher than 40 mg, an alternative medication will be prescribed.

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Which drugs interact with lovastatin and simvastatin?

Multiple drugs can affect the elimination of lovastatin and simvastatin from the body, leading to increased side effects. For example, erythromycin, ketoconazole, itraconazole, clarithromycin, and telithromycin can decrease elimination. Grapefruit juice can also increase the risk of muscle toxicity.

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Amiodarone, verapamil, diltiazem, and certain other medications can also increase the risk of muscle toxicity. If these drugs are necessary, the dosage of statins may need adjustment.

Lovastatin may enhance the effects of the blood thinner warfarin, so caution should be taken to monitor for any adverse reactions.

This is not an exhaustive list of drug interactions, so it is important to inform your doctor about all the medications you are taking.

Are lovastatin and simvastatin safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding?

  • Statin medications should not be taken during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Cholesterol is vital for the development of the fetus and infants, and statins can pass through breast milk.


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