Pravachol (generic name pravastatin) is prescribed primarily to lower cholesterol. Heart specialists recognize that coronary artery disease is associated with certain risk factors, including high serum cholesterol, bad LDL cholesterol, elevated triglycerides and reduced levels of protective HDL cholesterol.

Diet, exercise and weight control are usually considered important first-line preventive approaches. When they are insufficient, drugs like Pravachol may be important in reducing the risk of heart disease.

This medication has been found to increase good HDL cholesterol while lowering triglycerides and certain other negative blood fats.

Side Effects and Interactions

Pravachol has relatively few side effects and most people tolerate it well.

Some adverse reactions that may occur include nausea, flatulence, constipation, diarrhea, stomachache, fatigue, headache and skin rash.

Less common complications include dizziness, muscle pain, change in the sense of taste, insomnia, and numbness or tingling of the hands or feet.

Muscle aches or weakness could be a sign of a serious reaction called rhabdomyolysis or myopathy, and call for a test of kidney function. Kidney failure might be the outcome of untreated myopathy. Report any symptoms to your physician promptly.

The danger of rhabdomyolysis or myopathy is increased when Mevacor is combined with certain other drugs. Troleandomycin or erythromycin antibiotics such as E.E.S., E-Mycin, Erythrocin or PCE have been involved in several cases.

The new antibiotics Biaxin and Zithromax belong to the same class of drugs, but it is not clear if they have a potential for such an interaction. Because Pravachol is in the same class as Mevacor, this interaction may pose hazards with Pravachol as well.

When Pravachol is combined with other cholesterol-lowering medicines such as Lopid or niacin be alert for muscle pain, weakness, and kidney damage, as rhabdomyolysis may be more common in this situation. The transplant drug Sandimmune might also increase the risk of this dangerous reaction.

Pravachol may also increase the action of the blood thinner Coumadin; prothrombin time should be closely monitored.

Questran or Colestid may reduce the absorption of Pravachol if they are given at the same time. Tagamet also appears to interact with Pravachol.

Check with your physician and pharmacist to make sure Pravachol is safe in combination with any other drug you may take.

Special Precautions

Anyone with liver problems should probably not take Pravachol. Liver enzyme changes have been reported in a small proportion of patients using this medicine, and may indicate serious problems. Liver function should be tested before anyone starts taking Pravachol and every month or so for the first year. Periodic tests are needed thereafter.

Because cholesterol is essential for the developing fetus, pregnant women should not take Pravachol.

Research on animals has also shown stroke-like bleeding in dogs on Pravachol, but only at relatively high doses. Whether there is a risk for humans remains to be determined.

It is important to see an ophthalmologist before starting on Pravachol. An eye test should also be performed annually to make there is no damage to the lens.

Taking the Medicine

The manufacturer recommends that Pravachol be taken at bedtime.

It may be taken without or with meals.

Get The Graedons' Favorite Home Remedies Health Guide for FREE

Join our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide — for FREE!

  1. Brian
    New Orleans

    I’ve been taking Pravastatin for a week now, only 10 mg daily. 50 yr old male, borderline high cholesterol (238) with a history of heart disease in the family. I’ve been sleeping better than I have for years. Vivid dreams too. No muscle aches, no headaches. The only negative side effects so-far are the stinky farts that seem to linger longer than a normal fart. I’m looking forward to getting the cholesterol panel done again to see how this drug works.

  2. Kitta Mio
    Bay of Plenty NZ

    I started Pravastatin on the 01/02/2017 and take it at night. After the first night I awoke with severe pain in my shoulders and upper arms around my buttocks and very heavy legs I felt like I had not slept at all I was so tired. I have suffered with polymyalgia for many years and have been a user of prednisone but had prior to the Statin reduced over a year to nil. I believe the pain I was now experiencing was more severe as I awoke I could feel the excruiating pain I had to get out of bed just to stretch. I went to see my Dr only after 2 weeks as I could not lift my arms. I have since come off the drug and only after 1 week I am feeling better. I have to lose 10k to be able to avoid the need for the drug and I am hoping after the prednisone I will be able to do this.

  3. km

    I just started prevastatin 2 weeks ago. I am having terrible stomach pain within 15 minutes that lasts a few hours. It’s terrible and I don’t know if it’s damaging anything. I hope my Dr. lets me stop.

  4. Janice
    Cookeville, TN

    My husband, 85, had been on Lipitor ever since Lipitor came out. He suffered with daily leg pain for years which was blamed on post polio syndrome until an ER doctor told him to STOP LIPITOR NOW. In two days the pain was gone. Then he took Simvistatin and after some time had debilitating leg pain. Had x-rays, catscans with no help from medical world. Our daughter frantically researched his meds as he was nearly bedridden and getting worse daily. Stopped Simvistatin and in 5 weeks the pain was gone. I was on Simvistatin but stopped it as I have arthritis and don’t need any more muscle/joint pain. Doctor put me on Crestor which I stopped after two days – I could barely move from the pain. Now I am on Pravastatin but will stop it tomorrow. I have developed shoulder pain, tremors, itching, and severe back pain. I don’t know if any or all of these are caused by the statins, but I AM NOT TAKING THE CHANCE. I’m 83 and I think LOTS of oldsters are suffering from their medications but because we are old we chalk it up to that. AND, it is almost impossible to get the medical world to acknowledge the damage these drugs are doing.

    • Brent
      Port Angeles, WA

      During the entire month of August I was functionally disabled due to what my doctor agreed was probably Sciatica. The pain was non-stop. Centered deep in the left buttock, pain traveled down my leg to just below the ankle. I lost 10 lbs during this month and rarely slept. It was a living nightmare during which I stopped taking Pravastatin, 20mg 1x and other “old age” drugs the doctor thought I should be taking. I’m 71.

      At no time did the doctor tell me to stop the drugs and I was so frantic I didn’t mention it to him as I was begging him to do something to stop the pain. Alas, there was nothing he could do until the worst of the pain stopped (30-days later) except suggest PT. Throwing money at the problem once it had calmed down was not something I was interested in.

      After reading the posts here I feel even better knowing that I wasn’t alone. Oddly, the nurse told me late in the horror to use ice as she’d had Sciatica and ice helped. I tried ice and it helped! The doctor also confessed to having Sciatica but didn’t say what he’d done for it.

      45 days later I’m doing much better, but must be careful. If, for example, I’m on my knees in the garden getting up must be done slowly and carefully as too fast can cause that nerve to tighten. Once that happens I’m pretty much useless.

      I’d never had this problem before Pravastatin so can only conclude it’s bad for me.

  5. Cheryl

    My doctor recently increased my pravastatin from 40 mg daily to 80 mg daily. During the time I was taking 80 mg, I suffered considerable abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, and some nausea. I’ve been stumped as to what was causing it.

    In an effort to do everything I could to stop these problems, I cut my pravastatin back to 40 mg. My abdominal discomfort, so far, is reducing in a big way. I don’t know if it’s because of the decreased dose or not. Has anyone had a similar effect with increasing this med?

  6. Richard

    I am 55, have low cholesterol, Cardiologist says I fit in 8% class for heart attack, ( 320 ),, On lobetalol and Nefedipine too,, I started with atorvastatin but everything ached, now on Pravastatin, and I dont feel like getting up in the morning, I want to nap all the time, dont want to touch my wife ( lobetalol alone kills my sex drive),,, really sick of all the drugs, cant lose weight, eat 50% less than I did before 2010 when they put me on the two initial meds while another doctor added Benicar to the mix ( another ache side effect drug too ) when I ask my Cardio about it ( the sex too ) he blows me off, shows me his cell phone app, well i would rather die happy than never want to get out of bed, I just retired.

  7. LAURA

    WOW! I hadn’t looked at any of the side affects from taking the prevastitin that my doctor perscribed last May because I didn’t want to imagine any symptoms. But yesterday I had to go in and see her due to extreme aching in my upper legs, hips and extreme fatique. She took x-ray which turned out good. She said to stop taking the prevastatin. So I came home and began reading all of your comments and I can’t believe how many of us have the same symptoms. Some nights I cannot sleep due to leg aching and spasms. I hope that these side affects will leave soon and I haven’t done any permanent damage.

    • ang

      Thank you for your input. I have been telling my doctors these same symptoms. They are sending me to a back/bone specialist. Maybe just stopping some of my meds with help. I will talk to the doctors.

    • Melissa

      I’m a 67 yr old women and very active and healthy. No other medications. I’ve been on Pravastatin 20mg for a year. I was having pain in my calves when walking, pain around my elbow and lower back pain. Even bending over my lower stomach would hurt. Felt like I was falling apart. Stopped taking my Pravastatin just to see if I felt better… 2 days later I felt like a new person!!! When I woke up and got out of bed the second morning, I realized I had NO ACHES AND PAINS!!!! It’s amazing how great I feel, I forgot what it felt like to feel terrific.

      • Melissa

        Oh I forgot to add I started a cough and wizzing also!!!

  8. uma

    I am 37 year old and type 2 diabetic. I am overall healthy and maintain healthy lifestyle. My doctor has been behind me to take prevastatin for 3 years. I tried postponing last 2 years. This year I gave in. Last week she started me with 40 Mg. Oh my Goodness. I am feeling as though I hit by bus. No energy Muscle pain. Insomnia. Weakness in my arms. I am literally crawling on my stairs. I am going to stop.

  9. janet

    It’s a miracle. Since I started taking this drug, my nighttime muscle cramps have disappeared. Coincidence or not, I’m grateful!

  10. sandra

    I have been given pravastatin. I started with pain in hands, shoulders and down my arms. Now I have breathing problems and heart feeling that it is racing.

  11. Bev

    I have been taking Pravastatin for about 4 years now. Every now and then I’ll run out and because of pay day/rent situation will go a week or few days before I can re-fill my RX (No insurance). But this month I ran out and went 2 weeks… I truly thought I had developed some auto-immune disorder.
    My joints hurt terribly. My hip and leg were in so much pain just walking and laying down was painful. I thought it was hip and joint problems. All sorts of things went through my mind but I never once thought about the Pravastatin. I’ve never had problems before when I missed a week or a few days.
    But yesterday I went and got my RX filled, got some fish oil and today I wake up a completely different person. It’s absolutely stunning. I recommend ANYONE who has this happen mention this to your doctor before stopping the medicine. I will definitely mention this to mine at my monthly doctor visit.
    It’s easy to get bad information on the internet… but it’s also helpful when you learn things that make a difference. Never change your medication without the consent of your doctor.

  12. Tony G

    Although I am a male, have had many of the same symptoms you are describing. I have taken Pravastatin for several years. I have had nights where the itching and burning on my forearm would drive me crazy. I didn’t think I was going to make it through the night. I actually clawed my arm until it bled rather badly. I have also experienced the weakness in getting up from sitting on the floor or a low sitting position. Also, my right leg and ankle broke several years ago, will give me fits of aching so much. At night I come in from work and I collapse on the couch. I used to have a lot more energy. I had wondered if these symptoms could be caused by Pravastatin, but I blew it off as just a wild thought. Now, I’m hearing you have my same symptoms. I wonder how many others experience the same symptoms?

  13. Cornelia

    Hi, everyone. I had forgotten how bad statins can make you feel. Due to a tendon injury, I have gained 30 pounds and my cholesterol has shot up. First the doctor put me on Pravachol 40; then he increased it to 80. I gave been taking it for 2 months. I have NO ENERGY… I barely get through the work day. I ache all over, and last week I had the worst diarrhea for 6 days. I think the 80 mg. is killing me.
    I stopped Lipitor years ago due to muscle pain. I am going to have to reconstruct my life to lower my cholesterol. I cannot take statins. Yes, they work… but now I am reading about a reference to ALS and Alzheimer’s? I know a lot about Alz. Since I am a nurse in that field, and it seems like the numbers are skyrocketing. And I cannot find words sometimes… only recently. I am getting off of this. It reminds me of The Constant Gardener… a movie about a pharmaceutical company.
    I have abdominal cramping, back aches and I am just sitting here. Thank you for helping me make up my mind!

  14. HA

    My mom has been on Pravastatin for a little over a year and she has had non-stop muscle weakness and pain in her legs and a weakened grip. She was also exhausted from frequent night-time urination. After reading several books by several doctors, including the doctor who takes care of NASA astronauts, I had her stop taking it and her INR numbers (Coumadin levels in blood) dropped drastically, followed by her seeing double and heart racing so bad we had to take her to the ER. Doctor said that the sudden stop didn’t cause these issues, but I can’t help but wonder. Thing is now that the worse of getting off of it is done, she is feeling better.
    Doctors pretend like they don’t hear of these serious and very common side effects but you speak to people on statins and more than half have serious problems, most of which is muscle weakness and extreme fatigue. Yeah, high cholesterol is bad, but being bedridden and not being to walk or exercise can’t be all that great for you either.
    After a year and half on this stuff, a quarter of my mom’s heart muscle wasn’t pumping well. Muscle issues are a known side effect and the heart is a muscle. I’m going to try to keep her off the statins and start her on some co-Q 10 to counter the effects of this drug and see where it goes from there. BTW, while in the hospital, they tried to put her back on it and she refused to take it.

  15. DAVID S.

    I have taken some of the drugs mentioned and suffered many adverse side effects. I bought a book written by a pharmacologist who has worked as a consultant to doctors for many years. The book is a real eye-opener, especially for elderly persons such as myself. The title is “ARE YOUR PRESCRIPTION MEDICINES KILLING YOU?” The result was that I was able to convince my doctor to reduce the number of medicines and prescribe lower doses of ones he felt I definitely needed.

  16. cm

    Hi: I felt I had to write after reading all the comments.
    I am 62 year old married female. Been on pravastatin for several years….20 mg. For the last year or more have had terrible headaches. I then needed ANOTHER prescription for that… sumatriptan (spelling ) 100 mg. I feel like now I’m some sort of…. pill junky ?!!
    I know I have some cognitive problems already… I have M.S. but I feel this pill does not do me any justice in that regard. My father had his first heart attack at 50… died at 67 for the same. Knowing that and having some high cholesterol #’s I was put on the statin. My M.S. had been stable for over 20 years but now the sleepless nights, back pain, headaches and constipation are enough for me to just toss the dice and… chance it ? Any suggestions ??
    P.S. I am taking NO medications for my M.S.

  17. WSP

    Hello Pam
    I been thru a lot with this medicine pravastatin and I took myself off of it. My advice to you is have your doctor to give you something else. I take zetia 10 mg and niaspan 500 mg with an 81mg baby aspirin every night before bed and I’ve been doing great with my cholesterol. So when I went back in to see my doctor after I took myself off on a Friday I told him what was happening to me and he told me it was a good thing for me to pull myself off of it It was paralyzing my whole right side of my body.
    By the time Monday got here I was so so much better than I seen him on wed. And it was like nothing had happened except I do see that my right arm is very weak since this has happened. See I can’t take anything that is very strong with statin in it now at all. My father was on it and it put him in the bed the last 4 months of his life. I’m not really sure if that had an affect on him passing away he was a very old man in his 90’s.

  18. Pam

    I have only been on Pravastatin for 2 wks. I have severe back pain. The only thing that relieves it is to lay down. I get bad cramping in my back and legs. I don’t have the fatigue, but I’m starting to feel a definite difference in my musculoskelator system.
    Currently my right hand is feeling funny. I know when I get up from this hard back chair my back will grab me, and I will feel like I have been beaten up and kicked several times with a heavy shoe.
    I have never had this before. I stopped the Pravastatin, (since last noc)and hope these symptoms will go away. I hope it will happen soon. I swear it feels like my back has been broken, without any injury.

  19. MM

    I’ve been taking pravastatin since about May 2013. My major issues have been terrible gas that’s like sulfur and burning with very soft BM that needs a shower to feel clean again. Frequent Diarrhea too. Sometimes pains in my right side. Bloating and full feeling. Nausea and feeling like I’m coming down with a stomach bug. I’ve been experiencing a lot of pain in my right arm and thumb. Can’t use thumb without lots of pain when I have these frequent flare ups.
    Right now it feels completely normal. I haven’t taken pravastatin since Friday night and today is the first day I haven’t had that awful gas and my BM was more like it used to be. I seem to have the side effects that happen only to the 1 out of 100 have had. I also feel sometimes like my motor skills are off and like you feel when you blood sugar drops from not eating. Hard to explain. Just don’t feel good most if the time with bouts of fatigue. Still testing my body with out the meds for a little while then I will eventually call my Dr.
    Best to all with more serious illnesses!

    • maryann

      I have tried all types of statins. Lipitor made it so I couldn’t walk.

      My doctor just put me on Pravastatin… 7 days in I woke up at 3 am in horrific pain in my right arm. I was going to have my husband bring me to the emergency room. But I realized that I had never had this happen and the only thing that has changed in my life was this drug. If I went to the emergency room they would probably just say I had pulled my arm muscle and give me pain medication. Thank God I had pain medication already because I wouldn’t have been able to stand it.

      The following day, of course I didn’t take the statin. I had to keep my arm close to my stomach to keep from bending it. The elbow swelled up. But I drank lots of water and took pain medication. The next night my husband said I had been talking in my sleep of how much my right arm hurt. The next day it still hurt but was not as excruciating. The swelling is going down. I am ordering organic fruits and vegetables delivered to the house so I can eat better. I cannot handle the statins.

  20. L Y

    I started taking pravastatin 40mg about 2 years ago. about 2 1/2 months ago I started having trouble with my biceps like a freezing cold sensation then I couldn’t lift my arms to get dressed without pain even pulling the covers up at night was agony. I called the doctor after seeing a lot of things on the computer and stopped the pravastatin. Now 2 months later my hands ache my calves my knees and my biceps while not as bad are still not back to normal. Started taking coq10 200mg about 2 weeks ago. Hope this eventually goes away anyone else with this problem?

  21. wck

    I was switched from simvistatin over to pravastatin 4 months ago after a change in some other meds. I was exercising steadily at the time and suddenly developed a terrible case of plantar’s fasciitis. Got so bad that I had to stop exercising all together. Never made the connection between the drug and my condition — even saw my doctor and had shots to my heel to relieve the pain – to no effect.
    Everyone told me I just needed to be patient and let my foot heel, but weeks turned into months and the pain just kept getting worse. Then my right shoulder muscles began aching and I lost strength in my right side – could not lift my right arm above my head. I’m only 54 and have always been in great shape so I could not understand why this was happening to me. A friend asked me if I was taking a statin — and if so, was I also taking co-enzyme Q to counter the effects. I wasn’t taking the Q.
    My doctor had never mentioned this. I immediately stopped the pravastatin and started taking co-enzyme Q. Within 3 days, I am COMPLETELY pain free. I am still shocked at the difference – and a bit angry that my doctor was so clueless. The dramatic improvement in my pain level and energy makes me wonder what else this terrible drug was doing to my body. I will keep an eye on my cholesterol and do every natural thing I can to keep it under control.

  22. WSP


  23. TJR

    I have been taking Pravastatin 20 mg for about 3 months. I have developed sever pain in my shoulder so much so, that it was x-ray to see if anything was broking. No, nothing broken and recall no incident to cause this sever pain when shoulder is moved in certain position. Asked the doctor and he just smiled but did not discontinue the medication. Now I have developed pain in my hip and it is hard to get out of bed in the morning.
    I have been suffering with fatigue and now it is even worse. I too would like to know if pravastatin can be stopped abruptly or should it be tapered off?? with my current condition and what I have read, not only here, but at the Mayo and web MD site, I think I should stop now. My doctor isn’t listening to my complaints.
    People’s Pharmacy response: If the doctor truly isn’t listening (different from listening but disagreeing), you may need to look for a different doctor.

    • Abbie

      I also can not tolerate any statins, as both parents couldn’t either.
      DR. tries so many medicines old & new,hoping to get my cholesterol down, ( family ) both sides heritity.
      I have been on Pravastatin 10mg, then 1 month on 20 mg,
      Now same side effects : extremely fatiqued, abdominal pain, intermittent constipation , diarrhea, nausea , not interested in eating ,joints ache,facial rash and missing out on life. No more statin medication for me !

  24. Liz

    Im taking pravastatin 20mg… My cholesterol numbers have come down, but of course not as low as the guideline.. Now the Dr. wants to increase to 40mg. I’m very hesitant to increase dosage since I have no major symptoms. I think the guideline was reduced so more people will take cholesterol meds.
    I do not trust a society made up of companies unlimited profit venue, power, control based health care. So, must do research on side effects and what is a reasonable number to be at. No, I do not listen to whoever designed recommended numbers..I listen to my own body. Who will help you when your liver or kidney or whatever goes bad? The doctor or the company manufactured drugs etc. will not be holding your hand.
    So, I do not need perfect cholesterol numbers, since they do not exist. The company’s decide every few years what the numbers should be. I wonder who are the selected group of people are that make up the magic numbers for cholesterol etc.

  25. Terry

    I was taking Pravastatin 40 mg for 6 weeks but started to feel very tired after about 10 days. The doctor has now taken me off it and I am suffering extreme fatigue, weakness and ‘muzzy head’ since stopping 4 days ago. Please help me to find out how long this is likely to last and if there is anything I can do to relieve symptoms. I feel worse than I was taking the medication. I am female aged 74 and normally fit and active.

  26. afd

    05-17-2013 65 years old. Took it for the past 3 days. 40 mg Prevastatin Not taking it ever again. Can’t wake up in the morning. Hardly able to stand up. Finally feel alert right now and it is 5:30 pm in the day. This morning I noticed food given to me was extremely salty and wife assures me that it was not any more salty then usual. (It was a bowl of oatmeal… and she used the normal amt. of salt in it that the directions call for. She ate a bowl.) But I could not eat a second spoonful of it. It tasted like it was made with seawater. My cholesterol is 180. I will reduce it some other way.
    Thank You for the posts.

What Do You Think?

We invite you to share your thoughts with others, but remember that our comment section is a public forum. Please do not use your full first and last name if you want to keep details of your medical history anonymous. A first name and last initial or a pseudonym is acceptable. Advice from other commenters on this website is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. Stopping medication suddenly could result in serious harm. We expect comments to be civil in tone and language. By commenting, you agree to abide by our commenting policy and website terms & conditions. Comments that do not follow these policies will not be posted. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Your cart

Shipping and discount codes are added at checkout.