logoThe People's Perspective on Medicine



Zocor (generic name simvastatin) 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 Zocor may be important in reducing the risk of heart disease.

This medication has been found to reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides while raising HDL a variable amount.

Side Effects and Interactions of Zocor (Simvastatin)

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

Some adverse reactions that may occur include stomachache, constipation, flatulence, diarrhea, nausea, headache, fatigue, 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 Zocor is in the same class as Mevacor, this interaction may pose hazards with Zocor as well.

When Zocor 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 also appears to increase the risk of this dangerous reaction.

When Zocor 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.

Zocor may also increase the action of the blood thinner Coumadin; prothrombin time should be closely monitored. Lanoxin levels should also be monitored in people taking both medications.

It’s possible that flavonoids found in the herb Echinacea affect the enzyme (CYP 3A4) responsible for metabolizing many common drugs. If so, medications such as Zocor could reach higher levels in the body.

The herb St. John’s wort might speed elimination of Zocor from the body, which could reduce its effectiveness.

There is a remote but untested possibility that peppermint could increase the effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs such as Zocor. These agents work by inhibiting the enzyme HMG CoA reductase, and menthol has a similar action.

The herb gotu kola may raise cholesterol levels and should not be combined with Zocor.

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

Special Precautions

Anyone with liver problems should probably not take Zocor.

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 Zocor.

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

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

Taking the Medicine

The manufacturer recommends that Zocor be taken at bedtime.

It may be taken without or with meals.

Rate this article
4.2- 6 ratings
About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
Tired of the ads on our website?

Now you can browse our website completely ad-free for just $5 / month. Stay up to date on breaking health news and support our work without the distraction of advertisements.

Browse our website ad-free
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.

Showing 29 comments
Add your comment

I had the same symptoms (woke up with darting vision) and ER doctor diagnoses May 9 2014. I have since stopped taking my prescribed Simvastatin and Vitamin D prescription. Today I am a much better, but I am still having vertigo symptoms. Your post described exactly what happened to me.

In April of 2013, my doctor switched me from one statin to simvastatin. Since I had not been very responsible when taking the original statin, I was determined to take these pills every night before bed. Sometime in May of 2013, I started to have some odd dizziness at various times during the day.
While we were vacationing in the Grand Caymans in May I complained to my wife that I was feeling very dizzy. We both thought it was either dehydration or some side effects from my electronic cigarette. The symptoms seemed to fade away but I still would have headaches and dizziness in the mornings but, once again, I attributed these symptom to other factors in my life (caffeine, e-cig, stress).
0n July 19 2013 I woke up in bed and turned to the side to reach for my dog who had jumped in to the bed to say good morning and I thought I was having a seizure. My eyes felt like they were darting from side to side and the whole room was spinning.
I was truly frightened. I laid there for a while and tried to calm down. When I got out of bed the symptoms persisted. I forced myself to get up and get going. Long story short, my wife finally took me to a an immediate care place. The vertigo was so acute that they had to put me in a wheel chair to take me back to the exam room.
The doctor gave me all the typical tests, blood pressure while sitting, standing and lying down, an EKG, a shot of Fenigran in my butt, a bag of I.V. fluids and some Meclezine pills for the ride home. Needless to say, I missed work that day.
I seemed to be OK for the next few days. Then, about 6 days later, I awoke with the same thing again. The next day (Jul 28, 2013) I went and paid a visit to an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist. They gave me a hearing test and looked in my ears and nose and eyes. Their diagnosis was Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) and that I should see a Physical Therapist for Canalith repositioning treatments; That was on a Friday afternoon.
Over that weekend I was just in such denial that I began racking my brain to determine how this could have happened to me; what had changed in my life over the passed months that could have caused this? Then, it hit me! Simvastatin! I started searching on Google and wow, hundreds of people describing my experience. It was that Sunday evening following the visit to the E.N.T when I decided that I was going to stop taking the Simvastatin. It is now Monday, August 5. It has taken a full week and I am now feeling about 98% back to normal.
On both visits to the different doctors, I listed on my information sheet that I was taking Simvastatin. Neither physician ever questioned me about this medication nor provided me with any knowledge of potential side-effects of taking this drug.
I have yet to see the Physical Therapist.
If things go South, I will post again. However, I am keeping my fingers crossed and printing out sites like this one to provide as supporting evidence for my own diagnosis: Simvastatin poisoning.

Having horrible nightmare on 20 mg. Wake up tired every day.

zocor did not work for me my cholesterol went up 50 points.

Hip pain is a side effect of SIMVASTATIN ? I take 40 mg. Also is there any side effect when drinking Honey and Cinnamon tea?
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: We don’t know of interactions between simvastatin and honey or cinnamon.

Simvastatin/I took it for 6 months during that time my cholesterol went from 250 to 199 in 3 months however I had such severe leg pain that I didn’t sleep for 3 days along with nausea and muscle weakness in my legs which caused me to need help to just get up.
The doctor said the problems I had were a coincidence and I was sent to a Vascular surgeon and an orthopedic doctor and both said they could not find a problem then the pain became worse each time I took the medicine within 3 hours. I called the pharmacist who told me to quit taking the medicine when I began to have pain in my groin.
It was then My doctor discontinued the medicine and said there was nothing else I could take to lower my cholesterol. Now what? I am worried about having a stroke or??? Is there a natural way to do this other then diet and exercise which I already do.

I have been having sore and bleeding gums for 2 years. My dentist just says keep up your hygeine and eat more veggies. Was concerned it could be my blood pressure meds or simvastatin. I had my BP meds changed. Then after a month I weaned off the simvastatin. Symptoms improved a little. About that time I was placed on antibiotics for 5 days. The symptoms disappeared. After two weeks I had lab work run and was told to restart simvastatin. Symptoms have returned. I can find no side effect listed for sore and bleeding gums. Has anyone else had this problem?

I took Zocor, a statin drug, for almost 3 years. About 2.5 years into taking it I developed bad muscles pain and weakness in my legs. I was also taking Lisinopril the entire time I was taking the Zocor.
When I asked my doctor if the Zocor could be causing my leg pain, she said she didn’t think so and was reluctant to listen to me. She did one blood test which was negative for signs of muscle tissue breakdown.
It has been about 4 years since I took Zocor, and in all this time I have not been able to exercise regularly without experiencing muscle pain in my thighs which kept me awake at night. So I have not exercised like I should, and thus I have gained a lot of weight.
Recently I moved to another town, and after moving I had a bad backache. My backache went away after a few days and a prescription of Percocet, but immediately after taking the pain killer the pain shot down into my thighs and they felt like they were burning from the inside out! The pain was so bad that I could not walk, so I called 911 and was taken to the emergency room.
There they tested my blood and found evidence of muscle tissue breakdown, and the amount increased after I was admitted to the hospital. It has been 3 weeks since the muscle pain in my legs began. I was in the hospital for 5 days and then in a rehab. hospital for another week. I am home now, but I am still in pain, especially when I get out of bed at night or in the morning.
Now the pain is mostly in my left leg, but it can radiate over to my right side, especially into my upper thigh and glutes. Sitting just kills me unless I take a Percocet about forty-five minutes before getting out of bed. I know how dangerous it is for me to continue taking Percocet, so I am very worried.
I am also worried about my future. So far no doctor has been willing to say specifically what is wrong with me. And without a diagnosis, there can be no prognosis. One doctor mentioned that I might have an auto-immune disorder brought on by a severe allergic reaction to Zocor, a statin drug. Another suggested I might have rhabdomyolysis or myopathy.
I have just started seeing a new doctor. I am praying he will figure out what I have, and that he will be able to tell me what my future holds. One way or the other I need to know.

I too have been having problems/side effects from every statin I have taken, but I didn’t read about my side effects in here.
My problem is memory/recall with symvastatin, but the worst amnesia was with Lipitor, leg cramps with Crestor. Immediately stopped Lipitor, then stopped Crestor, keep going back to Symvastatin in very low dosage, but do not take it every day because if I do, I have minor memory & word recall problems, even with the smallest dosage. The only reason I continue to use it sparingly is because there are STROKES IN MY FAMILY.

I have been taking 10MG simvastatin and 120MG of diltiazem for A-Fib. suddenly I have been in A-Fib for two weeks and the diltiazem will not bring the pulse rate down now. I happen to go to fill the sivmvastatin and the pharmacist held up as there seems to be an interaction with both of them. I am waiting to hear if this is why the diltizem has stopped working for me.

A follow-up regarding poly-pharmacy.
I was given prescriptions to help counteract the intestinal effects of Pradaxa, which I was also taking at the same time as the simvastatin. A week later, I went for an ophthalmology visit, and the diagnosis was “well, we’ll have to give you some additional eye drops or surgery, because your glaucoma pressures are way up.”
Doing some research after the visit, I discovered that some people can have pressure elevations from the Librax that was one of the meds I was put on to counter-act the effects of the Pradaxa. I immediately stopped the Librax, and after 2 weeks returned to the ophthalmologist, who pronounced that the pressures were back to normal, and no further intervention was required.
Instead of the Librax, some natural Papaya digestive enzymes and high fiber cereals have done the trick . . . . .
The story doesn’t end here, but I could go on for a long time.
“hmmm, you’re having a side effect? Well, I can give you something to take for that . . . . . . ”
I’m taking control now, thank you very much.
Do your own research and remember, you know your own body, and what it’s telling you, far better than somebody who looks at “your numbers”.

I have a warning for anyone taking both Zocor (or the generic) and Cardizem (or generic). The very week my cardiologist started me on 20mg of simvastatin, the FDA and Merck both came out with a warning about the interaction of Cardizem and Zocor. Apparently, the Cardizem causes a huge increase in the plasma concentration levels of simvastatin. In my case, it must have been a huge increase. My cholesterol dropped from a 231 total to 143 in just 3 weeks until they changed me over to the 10mg dose limit recommended.
However, by then it was too late. I developed multiple problems, including severe dizziness/faint/balance/vertigo problems, digestive problems as well as a severe deep itching rash on both legs and feet, as well as wobbly walk. I am taking other medications as well, including Pradaxa, so there may be other interactions, but the rash has completely disappeared after stopping the simvastatin. Unfortunately, the balance and vertigo problems remain.
Poly-pharmacy is a bad thing. We are too dependent on being medicated in this country. With diet and exercise alone, I had dropped my total cholesterol from 287 to 231 and the triglycerides from 177 to 88. I’m going to avoid satins and try plant sterols and other dietary tricks.
Interestingly, my “numbers” looked good, while my health kept deteriorating. The first thing one of the doctors did when I reported side effects was to put me on 2 medications for the stomach problems, and benedryl and a powerful cream for the itching rash. Poly-pharmacy sucks. (pardon my language)
I’m sure statins are well tolerated by many, and do what is intended, but contrary to what is generally accepted, the side effects are NOT rare or UNUSUAL for a large percentage of the population, and feeling much worse after being treated for a “condition” is no way to live. I was told to tolerate the side effects at one point and learn to live with them.
I love those ads that say “Do not stop taking this drug without your Doctor’s permission” as if our bodies were owned by the Doctors.
If I sound a bit fanatical, it’s because I’m rapidly becoming that way. This is only part of what I’ve been through recently.

I quit taking simvastatin April 18 2011 due to severe cramping in my lower back which I had suffered with for over 2.5 years. It is now June 23, 2011. I am 57 years old and in good physical condition. My back pain is now GONE and I will look at other alternatives to keep my cholesterol low. I am done with statins!

You may want to consider the CHIP (Coronary Health Improvement Project) and/or Dr. John McDougall’s recommended eating plan which is a plant based diet eliminating all cholesterol from the diet and severely limiting sodium intake as well…

Try some apple pectin, worked for me…went from TC 298 to 150 in a month. No increase in HDL but lower LDL

The doctor told me if your allergic to one statin you are allergic to all statins.

I have had high cholesterol ever since being diagnosed when I was 37. I’m 47 now. I started out taking Lescol. My cholesterol went down the first 6 months, then without changing a thing in my diet, it started to go back up. I stopped taking it because I was worried about my liver and it didn’t seem to be doing the job anyway.
After a few years of trying to eat perfectly and exercising regularly, I had my cholesterol checked again. It was up to 268 and my doctor put me on Crestor. I had severe gastrointestinal problems immediately, so I stopped taking it and the problems went away.
Then, he tried Simvastatin (Zocor). I took it for 2 weeks and had vertigo so badly that I was afraid to drive. I stopped taking it and the vertigo went away.
Then he put me on Lipitor. After a few days, I experienced muscle aches so severe that I could no longer work out. I stopped taking it and the muscle aches went away, but it took almost a month!
I then tried some natural remedies that I’d read about. I took 500 mg of Turmeric daily in the middle of my largest meal. I drank 2 oz. of Pomegranite juice daily. I ate oatmeal with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon on it daily.
After a year, I recently went to the doctor to have my cholesterol checked. Today I got a notice in the mail that he has received the results and that my cholesterol is “very high”. I have to go in and discuss it with him and I am worried that he is going to try to put me on statin drugs again.
I tend to listen to my body and it does NOT like medications at all. I even get sick when taking antibiotics.
I’m afraid that because I’ve tried to change my diet, exercise regularly and use natural remedies and none of it has worked that he is going to tell me if I don’t take the statin drugs, I could have heart problems in the future. In fact, my paternal grandmother died when she was 63 from what they called back then “hardening of the arteries”.
I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place!!! What else can I do??

I recently began taking Zocor, I have sinus and cold symptoms and am trying to find out what over the counter relief medications are okay to take. I see upper resp. infections do occur in some patients; therefore, I’d think SOMEWHERE there is info. on helping out the congestion & cold symptoms before it creates a true URI!

After starting a daily 40 mg tab of simvastatin severe shoulder muscle pains developed. The drug was discontinued two weeks after triggering a lisinopril based allergy. The severe pain continues despite having been discontinued for over 6 weeks. Literature is full of info on rhabdomyolysis
caused by statin family of drugs. This condition may also be fatal. My diagnosis is yet incomplete and may be
called polymyalgia rheumatica.
My message: beware of statins (esp. simvastatin) causing
severe muscle problems. Why do physicians prescribe without adequate warning? A
rash is a side effect; being
crippled by muscle pain is more than a “side effect”.

I have a friend who was hospitalized and told that his pancreas in essence was damaged from taking an antibiotic and this drug. Since this hospitalization he has been having to take Pancrease. Apparently, it is because his pancreas has to be “jumpstarted” since this antibiotic and this drug were taken together last fall.
He told me this is per his doctor that it is a drug interaction. If this is so dangerous, why is it still on the market? Why aren’t there more warnings about taking certain antibiotics when taking his drug? He may lose his life because of this because he is still having problems. Frankly I think the maker of his drug should be paying all his medical bills as a result of this.

I just started taking Zocor and I am having problems with dizziness and I am having muscle fatigue. I am only 35 and I wonder if my Hypothyroidism may have something to do with it. Liver disease run’s in my family and my Doctor hasn’t even said that I need blood test once a month .I have only been on the med for aprox 3weeks. I am glad I chose this site cause now I know to ask my doctor about blood test to check my liver. Thank you! This site is very helpful.

I think I may be having problems with Simvastatin. (generic for Zocor) I had tingling in my feet. The doc increased the dose to 20mg and now I have tingling in the hands. I feel a little dizzy. My balance hasn’t been as good this last year. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but I’m concerned.

would like to know if grapefruit really effects the potency of simvastatin drugs?

This is my second attempt with Zorcor. My first attempt was actually a Vytoren combo and I had severe muscle “burning” and what I describe as “Gumby legs” after about 6 months; I couldn’t even flex a thigh muscle. After stopping the meds for 6 months, my cholesterol levels had increase, not too severely, but the symptoms had disappeared.My MD recommended a low dose of Zocor only. Well, after 60 days I again have muscle cramping, hands and legs, indigestion and a general feeling of not being well. My labs have been within normal ranges through out this period. Hmmm?

I’m not one of the lucky ones. After no more than 15 tablets, all over a month ago, I seem to be having issues that aren’t yet dissipating. I expected improvement by now. Urine has turned milky green. Constant insomnia & nightmares. Musclular pain (6 on a scale of 10) but constant and arthritic feeling. Concerned I’m not eliminating it.

Taking zocor 20mg while having the kidney disease FSGS. I want to know if it is safe and won’t damage my kidneys further. My doctor doesn’t know for sure. Should a doctor know this for sure? It it hard to say if i have muscles hurting because my whole body hurts without serious pain medication.
Thanks for any help from somebody who knows.

Simvastatin does not work. I took it in place of Lipitor because my insurance company requests generic brands, and my cholesterol went up 100 points in 6 months. If you take simvastatin — you need to have your cholesterol checked once-a-month.

I have been taking zocor for seven years, along with 12 other drugs. I have not had any side effects. And it is doing its job keeping my cholesterol levels perfect. I take 40mg nightly and I get checked every six months at the local lab. And yearly at the VA lab.

I recently began taking Zocor and seem to be tolerating it well. I have picked up a stomach bug from my kids and am wondering if I can take Ginger Root with it…

* Be nice, and don't over share. View comment policy^