What is Zocor?
Zocor (simvastatin) is an HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor, or “statin.” Zocor reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and total cholesterol in the blood. Zocor also raises high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels.
LDL cholesterol is often called “bad” cholesterol because it contributes to plaque buildup in your arteries. This buildup narrows your arteries and can lead to a heart attack or stroke. HDL cholesterol is often called “good” cholesterol because it helps remove LDL cholesterol from your arteries.
Health Benefits of Zocor
Zocor may help prevent heart disease and stroke by reducing your levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol. In one large study, people who took Zocor for five years had a 33% lower risk of heart attack and a 25% lower risk of stroke, compared to people who did not take the drug.
Other potential health benefits of Zocor include:
– A lower risk of death from any cause
– A lower risk of hospitalization for chest pain
– A lower risk of needing procedures to open blocked arteries
Side Effects of Zocor
The most common side effects of Zocor are:
– Stomach pain
More serious side effects of Zocor include:
– Liver damage
– Muscle pain and weakness
– Kidney problems
– Increased blood sugar levels
You should not take Zocor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have liver disease. Zocor may interact with other medications, so be sure to tell your doctor about all the drugs you are taking, including over-the-counter medications and supplements.
Talk to your doctor about the potential risks and benefits of taking Zocor before starting treatment.
Dosage of Zocor
The usual starting dose of Zocor is 10 mg to 20 mg once daily. Your doctor may increase your dose if necessary. The maximum recommended dose of Zocor is 80 mg per day.
Zocor should be taken with food. You should take Zocor at the same time each day to keep your levels of the drug consistent.
If you miss a dose of Zocor, take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue on your regular schedule. Do not take two doses of Zocor at the same time.
You should not take Zocor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Zocor may interact with other medications, so be sure to tell your doctor about all the drugs you are taking, including over-the-counter medications and supplements.
Some potential drug interactions include:
– Cholesterol-lowering medication such as Lipitor (atorvastatin)
– Blood thinners such as Coumadin (warfarin)
– Antidepressants such as Paxil (paroxetine)
– HIV/AIDS medication such as Reyataz (atazanavir)
Zocor may also interact with:
– Grapefruit or grapefruit juice
– Birth control pills
This is not a complete list of all potential drug interactions. Be sure to talk to your doctor about all the drugs you are taking before starting Zocor.
Mechanism of Action
Zocor works by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, which is required for the synthesis of cholesterol. By inhibiting this enzyme, Zocor reduces the production of cholesterol in the liver. This, in turn, lowers the levels of LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol in the blood.
Zocor also increases the production of HDL cholesterol by inhibiting the same enzyme. HDL cholesterol helps remove LDL cholesterol from your arteries, which can help prevent plaque buildup and heart disease.
Zocor is absorbed into the bloodstream after being taken by mouth. The drug then enters the liver, where it is broken down and removed from the body. Zocor has a half-life of about 14 hours, which means it takes about 14 hours for the drug to be reduced by half in the body.
Alternatives to Zocor
There are many alternatives to Zocor, including other cholesterol-lowering drugs such as:
– Lipitor (atorvastatin)
– Crestor (rosuvastatin)
– Pravachol (pravastatin)
– Lescol (fluvastatin)
– Vytorin (ezetimibe/simvastatin)
Other potential treatments for high cholesterol include:
– Exercise and weight loss
– A healthy diet
– Stopping smoking
If you are interested in trying an alternative to Zocor, talk to your doctor about all your treatment options.