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Pharmacy and Medications

Best time of day to take statin drugs

05/03/2005

Question:

My husband takes 20 mg. of Lipitor a day and I take 40 mg. of Zocor a day. We both take our pill with our dinner. Our friends all seem to take them at bedtime. Is there a `best` time to take these statins??

Answer:

Atorvastatin (Lipitor) and Simvastatin (Zocor) both inhibit the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, an enzyme in the liver that is responsible for making cholesterol.  Both of these agents are synthetic lipid-lowering agents that belong to the class of drugs known as "statins". 

Atorvastatin lowers "bad cholesterol", known as LDL (low-density lipoprotein), by 39-60%.  Atorvastatin also increases "good cholesterol", known as HDL (high-density lipoprotein), by 5-9%.  Also, Atorvastatin lowers total cholesterol by 29-45% and lowers triglyceride levels by 19-37%.  

Simvastatin lowers LDL by 35-50%, increases HDL by 8%, decreases total cholesterol by 28-36%, and decreases triglycerides by 15-24%. 

Statins are usually given in a single dose at either the evening meal or at bedtime to take advantage of the fact that the body makes more cholesterol at night than during the day.  It is recommended that Simvastatin be given in a single dose in the evening.  Atorvastatin can be given as a single dose at any time of the day, with or without food, because it has a longer duration of action in the body. 

Prepared by Holly Smith, PharmD Candidate, University of Cincinnati

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Response by:

Jan Scaglione, MT, PharmD, D.ABAT
Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati