Is Lipitor Safe if I Have Fatty Liver?

  • Medical Author:
    Dennis Lee, MD

    Dr. Lee was born in Shanghai, China, and received his college and medical training in the United States. He is fluent in English and three Chinese dialects. He graduated with chemistry departmental honors from Harvey Mudd College. He was appointed president of AOA society at UCLA School of Medicine. He underwent internal medicine residency and gastroenterology fellowship training at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.

  • Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Ask the experts

My doctor told me that I have fatty liver and high cholesterol. He also said that my liver is slightly inflamed because my liver tests are mildly abnormal. He wants me to lose weight, exercise and take Lipitor to lower my cholesterol. I also read that Lipitor can have liver side effects. Is it safe to take Lipitor in somebody like me?

Doctor's response

Low dose statins like atorvastatin (Lipitor) are safe in patients with mild liver disease (for example, patients with fatty liver and mildly abnormal liver tests in the blood such as ALT and AST). Since many people have fatty livers due to obesity as the cause of their mildly elevated AST and ALT; losing excess weight helps to normalize the liver tests. Nevertheless, there is insufficient data on the safety of statins in patients with more severe liver disease with moderate or severe elevations of AST or ALT. It also is important to monitor test levels periodically since statins should be stopped if liver tests become progressively more abnormal.

Medically reviewed by Venkatachala Mohan, MD; Board Certified Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Gastroenterology

REFERENCE:

Statins: Actions, side effects, and administration
UpToDate.com

Natural history and management of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in adults
UpToDate.com

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Reviewed on 6/29/2017

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