The drug lovastatin is a medication that helps to lower levels of cholesterol in the blood in addition to a healthy diet and exercise regimen. It comes either as a regular tablet, taken once or twice a day, or as a tablet that releases the drug slowly, taken only once a day. Both the regular tablet and the extended-release tablet are low-risk medications. Severe side effects of lovastatin are rare, and gastrointestinal upset is what most commonly occurs in patients.
Usually, the gastrointestinal effects on a patient are mild. These include gas and heartburn. The drug may also cause diarrhea or constipation. Stomach pain may also occur, but if the pain is localized to the right upper part of the stomach, then this is a severe side effect and should be evaluated by a physician. The mild effects generally disappear over time and can get better as treatment continues.
Constipation is the single most common side effect of treatment with the drug. If the constipation does not get better by itself, or if the condition is severe, then the patient should seek medical advice from a doctor. Headaches and blurred vision are also possible with the use of lovastatin, although these symptoms are less common than the gastrointestinal symptoms. A patient may also feel dizzy. Other side effects of lovastatin are rare.
A patient can be allergic to the medication. If a person develops hives, itching, or if parts of the body swell, a doctor should be called straightaway. Swelling of the throat and airways can also manifest as problems swallowing or breathing.
The drug may also cause lethargy, loss of appetite, or muscle pain. Sometimes, a patient can bleed or bruise more than usual. Jaundice, which shows itself as a yellow tinge to the skin and eyes, is also a severe side effect that should be investigated by a doctor.
A related group of drugs, called statins, are also known to cause a wide range of problems in rare cases. For example, treatment with a statin can encourage existing cataracts to grow, affect psychiatric or nervous system health, or evoke autoimmune diseases. However, there is no evidence that these side effects occur with lovastatin.
A patient with liver disease or kidney disease may have an increased risk of side effects from the drug and so may not be suitable for lovastatin treatment. Pregnant and breast-feeding women should not take the drug. Some medications may interact adversely with lovastatin. The risk of side effects of lovastatin is also increased with intake of alcoholic drinks.