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What Is Pravastatin?

B. Chisholm
B. Chisholm

Pravastatin is a medicine used to lower cholesterol levels. High cholesterol, if left untreated, may result in cardiovascular disease (CVD), heart attacks or stroke. The drug is known by different trade names in different countries, according to the manufacturer. It is taken orally, usually once a day, and is typically available by prescription only, but this may differ from country to country.

Cholesterol is an essential fat in the body and is used in the creation of many parts of the body, including membranes and some hormones. It is vital, however, that cholesterol levels in the body do not exceed those required. If they do, it may lead to build up of plaque in the blood vessels, which is known as atherosclerosis. This causes blockages in the vessels that may raise blood pressure and, ultimately, result in myocardial infarction (MI), or heart attack, and stroke. Cholesterol levels are checked by taking blood and should be monitored regularly.


Hypercholesterolemia, or elevated blood cholesterol levels, depending on how high they are, may first be treated with lifestyle changes. These include increased exercise, reduced stress, loss of weight and, most importantly, changing to a low cholesterol diet. Foods such as red meat, shrimp and cheese are high in cholesterol. Vegetables and fruit, low fat dairy products and lean meats contain less cholesterol. A significant reduction in cholesterol may be attained by lifestyle changes.

If, however, the cholesterol remains high, a lipid-lowering drug such as pravastatin may be used in combination with the changes in lifestyle. It belongs to a class of drugs called 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors, or statins. These drugs reduce cholesterol by blocking HMG-CoA reductase, which is the enzyme in the liver responsible for the production of cholesterol.

When starting to use pravastatin, any other drugs or concomitant disease conditions should be discussed with the prescribing doctor. Pravastatin may interact with some other medications and may not be advisable in patients with some other medical conditions. Pregnancy, desired pregnancy and lactation should also be discussed prior to initiation of pravastatin.

As with all drugs, pravastatin may have adverse effects. These may include muscle stiffness or pain and gastrointestinal side effects. Any untoward effects experienced should be discussed with the prescribing doctor immediately. The dose and frequency of dosing prescribed by the doctor should not be exceeded. Normally, the dose is 40mg daily, but it may in some cases be increased or decreased depending on response and tolerance.

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