- What is pravastatin, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for pravastatin?
- Is pravastatin available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for pravastatin?
- What are the side effects of pravastatin?
- What is the dosage for pravastatin?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with pravastatin?
- Is pravastatin safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about pravastatin?
What is pravastatin, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Pravastatin is an oral drug for lowering the cholesterol in the blood that contributes to the formation of plaques in the walls of arteries that obstruct the flow of blood, known as arteriosclerotic vascular disease. Obstruction of the flow of blood to the heart causes heart attacks. Obstruction of flow to the brain causes strokes. Pravastatin has been shown to reduce the occurrence of heart attacks, strokes and death caused by arteriosclerotic vascular disease. It belongs to a class of drugs called HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, commonly called "statins." Other statins include simvastatin (Zocor), lovastatin (Mevacor), atorvastatin (Lipitor), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and fluvastatin (Lescol). Statins reduce cholesterol by inhibiting an enzyme in the liver (HMG-CoA reductase) that is necessary for the production of cholesterol. In the blood, statins lower total and LDL ("bad") cholesterol as well as triglycerides. LDL cholesterol is believed to be an important cause of arteriosclerotic vascular disease. Lowering LDL cholesterol levels slows progression or reduces the size of cholesterol-containing plaques in the arteries of the heart and brain as well as other tissues. Statins also increase HDL ("good") cholesterol, and higher levels of HDL cholesterol are associated with reduced arteriosclerotic vascular disease. Raising HDL cholesterol levels may slow the progression of arteriosclerotic vascular disease.
Scientists have discovered that inflammation of the coronary arteries also may contribute to arteriosclerotic vascular disease. Inflammation is associated with elevated levels of a protein called C-reactive protein in the blood. This C-reactive protein can be measured by a test, referred to as the "highly-sensitive" C-reactive protein test (Hs-CRP). Elevated levels of Hs-CRP predict the occurrence of heart attacks, strokes, and death. In fact, Hs-CRP is a better predictor of heart attacks, strokes, and death than cholesterol levels. Statins reduce the levels of Hs-CRP, and it has been suggested that statins may reduce arteriosclerotic vascular disease by reducing inflammation in addition to lowering levels of cholesterol. Pravastatin was approved by the FDA in October 1991.
What are the side effects of pravastatin?
Like most statins, the most common side effects of pravastatin are:
The most serious potential side effects are liver damage and muscle inflammation or breakdown. Serious liver damage with statins is rare, however. More often, statins cause abnormalities of liver tests. Abnormal tests usually return to normal even if a statin is continued, but if the abnormal test is greater than three times the upper limit of normal, the statin usually is stopped. Liver tests should be measured before therapy is started and whenever there is a medical concern.
Inflammation of the muscles caused by statins can lead to a serious breakdown of muscle cells called rhabdomyolysis. When used alone, statins cause rhabdomyolysis in less than one percent of patients. Rhabdomyolysis causes the release of proteins from muscle (myoglobin) into the blood. Myoglobin can cause kidney failure and even death. To prevent the development of rhabdomyolysis, patients taking statins, including pravastatin, should contact their health care professional immediately if they develop unexplained muscle pain, weakness, or tenderness.
Since pravastatin prevents heart attacks, strokes and death, its benefit usually outweighs its serious but rare side effects. Other important side effects include post-marketing reports such as:
Symptoms may start one day to years after starting treatment and resolve within a median of three weeks after stopping the statin.
What is the dosage for pravastatin?
The dose range of pravastatin is 10-80 mg daily. The usual starting dose in adults is 40 mg once daily. The maximum dose is 80 mg per day. The starting dose for patients with major liver or kidney dysfunction is 10 mg daily.
The dose for children (8-13 years old) is 20 mg daily, and the dose for adolescents (14-18 years old) is 40 mg daily.
Which drugs or supplements interact with pravastatin?
Bile acid sequestrants such as cholestyramine (Questran) may reduce the absorption of pravastatin from the intestine and thereby reduce its effects. Therefore, pravastatin should be taken one hour before or four hours after bile acid sequestrants. The use of pravastatin with nicotinic acid, gemfibrozil (Lopid) or other drugs that cause liver or muscle problems may increase the risk of muscle problems.
Is pravastatin safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
Statins should not be used by pregnant women because they impair fetal development.
A small amount of pravastatin is excreted in breast milk. Because of the risk of toxicity to the infant, nursing mothers should not nurse while taking pravastatin.
What else should I know about pravastatin?
What preparations of pravastatin are available?
Tablets: 10, 20, 40, and 80 mg
How should I keep pravastatin stored?
Pravastatin should be stored at room temperature, between 15-30 C (58-86 F).
Quick GuideLower Your Cholesterol, Save Your Heart
Pravastatin (Pravachol, Pravigard PAC [discontinued]) is a drug that belongs to the drug class of statins and is prescribed for the treating individuals at risk of the consequences of arteriosclerotic vascular disease, strokes, transient ischemic attacks (TIAs or mini-strokes), and heart attacks. Side effects, dosing, drug interactions, and warnings and precautions should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
High Cholesterol (Hyperlipidemia) Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
High cholesterol can be a dangerous condition. Take the Cholesterol Quiz to understand what high cholesterol means in terms of...
Heart Disease Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Take our Heart Disease Quiz to get answers and facts about high cholesterol, atherosclerosis prevention, and the causes,...
Cholesterol Drugs: What to Expect With Heart Medication
When diet and exercise aren't enough, should you turn to drugs? Learn cholesterol basics, drug classes, and available drugs along...
Related Disease Conditions
Stroke (Signs, Symptoms, Warning Signs)
A stroke is an interruption of the blood supply to part of the brain caused by either a blood clot (ischemic) or bleeding...
HDL vs. LDL Cholesterol (Differences, Normal Ranges, Meanings)
HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or the "good" cholesterol, and LDL (low-density lipoprotein), or the "bad"...
Fatty Liver (NASH)
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NASH occurs due to the accumulation of abnormal amounts of fat within the liver. Fatty liver...
Heart disease (coronary artery disease) occurs when plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, the vessels that supply blood to...
Rhabdomyolysis is a rapid deterioration and destruction of skeletal muscle. Some of the causes of rhabdomyolysis include:...
A heart attack happens when a blood clot completely obstructs a coronary artery supplying blood to the heart muscle. A heart...
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA, Mini-Stroke)
When a portion of the brain loses blood supply, through a blood clot or embolus, a transient ischemic attack (TIA, mini-stroke)...
Angina (Symptoms, Causes, Types, Diagnosis, and Treatment)
Angina is chest pain due to inadequate blood supply to the heart. Angina symptoms may include chest tightness, burning,...
Cholesterol (Lowering Your Cholesterol)
High cholesterol and triglyceride levels increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Getting your cholesterol and triglyceride...
Heart Attack Pathology: Photo Essay
A heart attack is a layperson's term for a sudden blockage of a coronary artery. This photo essay includes graphics, pictures,...
Heart Attacks in Women
Heart disease, particularly coronary artery disease is the leading cause of heart attacks. Women are more likely to die from a...
Heart Attack Treatment
A heart attack involves damage or death of part of the heart muscle due to a blood clot. The aim of heart attack treatment is to...
Heart Attack Prevention
Heart disease and heart attacks can be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle with diet, exercise, and stress management....
High Cholesterol: Frequently Asked Questions
Cholesterol occurs naturally in the body. High blood cholesterol levels increase a person's risk of developing heart disease,...
Stroke is the third leading killer in the United States. Some of the warning signs of stroke include sudden confusion, trouble...
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Heart Disease FAQs
- High Cholesterol (Hyperlipidemia) FAQs
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Medication Disposal
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- What are Cholesterol-Lowering Statins?
- Does Nizoral Shampoo Interfere with Statins?
- What Are the Risks and Side Effects of Zocor?
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
- Who Really Needs Blood Pressure, Cholesterol Meds?
- Whether Statins Cut Alzheimer's Risk May Depend on Gender, Race
- Statins Often Interact With Other Heart Drugs
- Statins May Help Kids With Genetic Cholesterol Disorder
- Blood Pressure Swings Could Be Linked to Mental Decline: Study
- Statin Use May Reduce Parkinson's Risk, Study Says
- Most Statin Users Won't Have Major Side Effects
- Cholesterol Drugs Linked to Muscle, Joint Problems: Study
- Could Statins Raise Diabetes Risk?
- Internet Search History May Reveal Unknown Drug Side Effects
- Statins Plus Exercise Best at Lowering Cholesterol, Study Finds
- More New Drugs a Bad Fit With Grapefruit, Study Finds
- Statin Risks Outweighed by Statin Benefits
- Could a Statin Lower Your Risk for Depression?
- New Warnings on Cholesterol-Lowering Statins
- Generic Lipitor FAQ
- Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs May Cut RA Risk
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.