People should not take simvastatin with alcohol because consuming even small amounts of alcohol while taking this cholesterol-lowering drug can result in liver damage. Simvastatin is a hypolipidemic drug that is effective in lowering cholesterol. It is otherwise known as Zocor® and can be taken between once and three times per day. Although non-pharmaceutical means of lowering blood lipids can help decrease the numbers, medication is sometimes necessary to lower cholesterol enough to diminish the risk of heart attacks.
Those who have a pre-existing liver conditions are especially sensitive to the effects of taking simvastatin with alcohol, and may even be putting themselves at risk for liver failure if they continue to drink while taking this medication. In addition, taking simvastatin with alcohol can intensify the side effects of simvastatin, which include nausea and diarrhea.
Other side effects of simvastatin include muscle aches, heartburn, and yellowing of the skin or eyes. This is known as jaundice and can also cause the urine to become very dark and cause stools to take on a clay-colored appearance. Jaundice is one of the major symptoms of liver disease, so at the first sign, people taking simvastatin with alcohol should see their physician. Since all cholesterol-lowering medications can affect the liver, taking them with alcohol only increases the risk of liver damage.
People with high cholesterol levels who are also heavy drinkers may want to consider alternative methods of bringing down their cholesterol levels. Eating a healthy diet, exercising moderately, and losing weight are effective methods for lowering cholesterol levels. Eating high-fiber foods may also decrease cholesterol levels as well as levels of triglycerides, which are also a type of blood lipid. High triglyceride levels are also considered to be a risk factor in heart disease, especially in women.
Anyone who takes simvastatin with alcohol should tell his health care provider. When the physician is aware that the patient is taking this risky combination, he may elect to monitor liver function more frequently. Even when taking simvastatin alone, liver enzymes are typically routinely tested to make sure the cholesterol-lowering effects of the drug are not damaging the liver.
Just as people should not take simvastatin with alcohol, they should also not take it with grapefruit juice. The combination of grapefruit juice and simvastatin may result in exceptionally high concentrations of the drug in the bloodstream and may significantly increase the likelihood and intensity of side effects caused by simvastatin. Although small amounts of grapefruit juice taken with simvastatin probably won't hurt, people should check with their physicians prior to mixing the combination.