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What Are the Differences Between Simvastatin and Lovastatin?

Simvastatin is very similar to lovastatin.
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  • Written By: B. Chisholm
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 02 July 2014
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The main difference between simvastatin and lovastatin is the usual therapeutic dosage that is prescribed. They also differ, very slightly, in chemical structure but share the same mechanism of action, potential for interactions and adverse effects. They are both used to treat high cholesterol and in most countries are available by prescription only. Their trade names may differ from country to country, according to manufacturer. Due to the differences in their therapeutic dosages, the strengths of the available pharmaceutical products may also differ.

Simvastatin and lovastatin belong to the class of drugs called HMG-CoA Reductase inhibitors, or “statins.” They work to lower the levels of cholesterol in the body by blocking HMG-CoA reductase, an enzyme involved in producing cholesterol. High levels of cholesterol may lead to blockages of the blood vessels resulting in heart attack, stroke and angina. Initially, lifestyle changes will be recommended in patients with high cholesterol which include dietary changes, loss of weight and exercise.

Cholesterol levels can be measured using a simple blood test called a lipid profile. The treating doctor will do a baseline test and monitor the cholesterol levels. If the cholesterol levels are mildly raised, lifestyle changes may be recommended initially, with the addition of medication if and when necessary. There are a number of different classes of drugs to treat high cholesterol and the best option will be recommended by the treating doctor, according to each patient’s lipid profile.

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The starting and maintenance doses of simvastatin and lovastatin may differ. The usual dosage range of simvastatin is 5 to 40 mg daily whereas the usual dose of lovastatin is 10 to 80 mg daily or in two doses a day. The maintenance dose of both simvastatin and lovastatin will be determined by the prescribing doctor, according to response and tolerance. The prescribed dose should never be exceeded.

As with any medication, both simvastatin and lovastatin may cause unwanted side effects. In general, the side effects that have been reported are similar for both and may include liver toxicity and muscle problems. Should muscle pain or any other adverse effect be experienced, medical advice should be sought immediately. The drug may be discontinued by the doctor, or the dose may be reduced.

Interactions may occur with other medications and both simvastatin and lovastatin. Any other medications should be discussed with the prescribing doctor, including over-the-counter, homeopathic and complementary medications. Both drugs may be contraindicated in people with some clinical conditions so these should also be disclosed, as should pregnancy, desired pregnancy and lactation.

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Discuss this Article

candyquilt
Post 3

@fify-- Both simvastatin and lovastatin cause muscle pain, so in that sense, it doesn't matter which one you're on.

But I have heard that simvastatin works better than lovastatin. So if simvastatin is working to reduce your cholesterol right now, you may not be as happy on lovastatin.

On the other hand, my friend was on simvastatin and she lost a lot of weight on it. She became underweight. I don't think that lovastatin has a side effect like that.

I think they both have their advantages and disadvantages. Neither are perfect drugs unfortunately.

ddljohn
Post 2

@fify-- From my experience, they basically have the same side effects, except for their effects on blood sugar. Lovastatin increased my blood sugar whereas simvastatin didn't affect it much. So if you're a diabetic, you shouldn't be on lovastatin.

fify
Post 1

Do one of these cause less side effects than the other?

I've tried both atorvastatin and simvastatin. Atorvastatin caused many side effects so I switched to simvastatin. Simvastatin is better but I still have some muscle pain and fatigue.

How is lovastatin? If it has less side effects than simvastatin, I might ask my doctor to switch me.

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