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Pronounced: LESS-cahl
Generic name: Fluvastatin sodium

Why is this drug prescribed: Lescol reduces "bad" LDL cholesterol--and increases "good" HDL cholesterol--in the blood, and can lower your chances of developing clogged arteries and heart disease. It is also prescribed to slow the accumulation of plaque in the arteries of people who already have coronary heart disease, and may be prescribed for you when you are released from the hospital after a heart attack. Your doctor will prescribe the drug only if you have been unable to reduce your blood cholesterol level sufficiently with a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet alone. For people at high risk of heart disease, current guidelines call for considering drug therapy when LDL levels reach 130. For people at lower risk, the cut-off is 160. For those at little or no risk, it's 190.

Most important fact about this drug: Lescol is usually prescribed only if diet, exercise, and weight loss fail to bring your cholesterol levels under control. It's important to remember that Lescol is a supplement--not a substitute--for those other measures. To get the full benefit of the medication, you need to stick to the diet and exercise program prescribed by your doctor. All these efforts to keep your cholesterol levels normal are important because together they may lower your risk of heart disease.

How should you take this medication: Lescol is available in standard capsules and extended-release tablets (Lescol XL). If you are taking standard Lescol capsules and you've been prescribed a small, single dose per day, take it at bedtime. A large dosage (80 milligrams) may be divided into 2 smaller doses and taken twice a day. Lescol XL tablets should be taken once a day at bedtime. The tablets should be swallowed whole, never crushed or chewed. You may take Lescol with or without food. --If you miss a dose... If you miss a dose of this medication, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the one you missed and go back to your regular schedule. Do not take 2 doses at the same time. --Storage instructions... Store at room temperature in a tightly closed container. Protect from direct light and excessive heat. Keep out of reach of children.

What side effects may occur: Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking Lescol. More common side effects may include: Abdominal pain, accidental injury, back pain, constipation, diarrhea, flu-like symptoms, headache, indigestion, joint diseases, joint pain, muscle pain, nasal inflammation, nausea, sore throat, upper respiratory infection Less common side effects may include: Allergy, arthritis, chest congestion, coughing, dizziness, dental problems, fatigue, gas, inflamed sinuses, insomnia, rash, urinary tract infection

Why should this drug not be prescribed: Do not take Lescol while pregnant or nursing. Also avoid Lescol if you are experiencing liver problems, or if you have ever been found to be excessively sensitive to it. A variety of conditions that raise cholesterol levels should be ruled out before you turn to Lescol therapy. These problems include diabetes, kidney disease, poor thyroid function, liver disease, and alcoholism.

Special warnings about this medication: Because Lescol may damage the liver, your doctor may order a blood test to check your liver enzyme levels before you start taking this medication. Blood tests will probably be done 12 weeks after you start Lescol therapy, whenever your dose is increased, and periodically after that. If your liver enzymes rise too high, your doctor may tell you to stop taking Lescol. Your doctor will monitor you especially closely if you have ever had liver disease or if you are, or have ever been, a heavy drinker. Since Lescol may cause damage to muscle tissue, be sure to tell your doctor of any unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness right away, especially if you also have a fever or feel sick. Your doctor may want to do a blood test to check for signs of muscle damage. If your blood test shows signs of muscle damage, your doctor may suggest discontinuing this medication. If your risk of muscle and/or kidney damage suddenly increases because of major surgery or injury, or conditions such as low blood pressure, severe infection, or seizures, your doctor may tell you to stop taking Lescol for a while.

Possible food and drug interactions when taking this medication: If you take Lescol with certain drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining Lescol with the following: Cholestyramine (Questran) Cimetidine (Tagamet) Clofibrate (Atromid-S) Cyclosporine (Sandimmune, Neoral) Diclofenac (Voltaren) Digoxin (Lanoxin, Lanoxicaps) Erythromycin (E-Mycin, E.E.S.) Gemfibrozil (Lopid) Glyburide (Micronase) Niacin (Niaspan) Omeprazole (Prilosec) Phenytoin (Dilantin) Ranitidine (Zantac) Rifampin (Rifadin)

Special information if you are pregnant or breastfeeding: You must not become pregnant while taking Lescol. This medication lowers cholesterol, and cholesterol is needed for a baby to develop properly. Because of the possible risk of birth defects, your doctor will prescribe Lescol only if you are highly unlikely to get pregnant while taking this medication. If you do become pregnant while taking Lescol, stop taking the drug and notify your doctor right away. Lescol does appear in breast milk. Therefore, Lescol could cause severe side effects in a nursing baby. Do not take Lescol while breastfeeding your baby.

Recommended dosage: Your doctor will put you on a cholesterol-lowering diet before starting treatment with Lescol. You should continue on this diet while you are taking Lescol. ADULTS: Lescol Capsules The usual starting dose is 20 to 40 milligrams per day, taken as a single dose at bedtime. The usual range after that is 20 to 80 milligrams per day. At the 80-milligram level, the dosage will be split into two 40-milligram doses taken 2 times a day. If you have kidney disease, doses over 40 milligrams should be used with caution. After 4 weeks of therapy with Lescol, your doctor will check your cholesterol level and adjust your dosage if necessary. Lescol XL Tablets The usual starting dose is one 80-milligram XL tablet taken as a single dose at bedtime. After 4 months of therapy with Lescol XL, your doctor will check your cholesterol level and adjust your dosage if necessary. Combined Drug Therapy If you are taking Lescol capsules with another cholesterol medication such as Questran, make sure you take the other drug at least 2 hours before your dose of Lescol. CHILDREN: Do not give Lescol to children under 18 years of age.

Overdosage: Excessive doses of Lescol can cause a variety of stomach and intestinal problems. If you suspect an overdose, seek medical treatment immediately.

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