1. About rosuvastatin
Rosuvastatin belongs to a group of medicines called statins.
It's used to lower cholesterol if you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol.
Rosuvastatin is available on prescription as tablets.
2. Key facts
- It's usual to take rosuvastatin once a day.
- Speak to a doctor straight away if you experience any unexplained muscle aches and pains, tenderness or weakness.
- Keep taking rosuvastatin even if you feel well, as you'll still be getting the benefits. Most people with high cholesterol do not have any symptoms.
- Do not take rosuvastatin if you're pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Rosuvastatin is also called by the brand name Cresto.
3. Who can and can't take rosuvastatin
Rosuvastatin can be taken by adults and children over the age of 6 years.
Rosuvastatin is not suitable for some people. Tell your doctor if you:
- have had an allergic reaction to rosuvastatin or any other medicines in the past
- have liver or kidney problems
- are trying to get pregnant, think you might be pregnant, are already pregnant or are breastfeeding
- have severe lung disease
- take a medicine called ciclosporin
- or a close relative has or have had a muscle disorder (including fibromyalgia)
Rosuvastatin also comes as a higher 40mg dose for adults. It's not suitable for some people. Tell your doctor if you also:
- have an underactive thyroid
- have had problems with your muscles when taking a statin or another cholesterol lowering medicine in the past
- regularly drink large amounts of alcohol
- are of Asian origin
- take other medicines called fibrates to lower your cholesterol
4. How and when to take it
It's usual to take rosuvastatin once a day. You can take it at any time as long as you stick to the same time every day.
Rosuvastatin will not usually upset your stomach, so you can take it with or without food.
Swallow rosuvastatin tablets whole with a glass of water.
How much to take
How much you take depends on what you're taking rosuvastatin for:
- preventing heart attacks and strokes - the usual dose for adults is 20mg once a day. Sometimes a lower dose may be prescribed.
- high cholesterol - the usual starting dose for adults and children is 5mg to 10mg once a day. If needed, your doctor may increase your dose every 4 weeks up to 20mg a day.
The maximum dose for children is 20mg a day.
If you have very high cholesterol, you may be prescribed a higher dose of 40mg a day by a specialist. This dosage is not suitable for everyone.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice if you're unsure how much to take.
Do not reduce your dose without talking to your doctor first.
What if I forget to take it?
If you forget to take a dose, skip the missed dose and take your next one the next day at the usual time.
Never take 2 doses at the same time. Never take an extra dose to make up for the forgotten one.
If you forget doses often, it may help to set an alarm to remind you.
You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways to help you remember to take your medicine.
What if I take too much?
The amount of rosuvastatin that can lead to an overdose varies from person to person.
Urgent advice: Call your doctor straight away if you take too much rosuvastatin
If you need to go to A&E, do not drive yourself - get someone else to drive you or call for an ambulance.
Take the rosuvastatin packet or the leaflet inside it, plus any remaining medicine with you.
5. Side effects
Like all medicines, rosuvastatin can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Side effects often improve as your body gets used to the medicine.
One rare but serious side effect is unexplained muscle aches and pains, tenderness or weakness. This can happen a few weeks or months after you first start taking this medicine.
Report any unexplained muscle aches and pains, tenderness or weakness to a doctor straight away.
Talk to your doctor or a pharmacist if side effects are bothering you. They may recommend trying an alternative statin.
Common side effects
These side effects happen in more than 1 in 100 people.
Keep taking the medicine, but tell your doctor or pharmacist if these side effects bother you or do not go away:
- feeling sick
- stomach pain
- feeling weak or dizzy
- protein in your pee (if you're taking the higher 40mg dose) - your doctor will check for this as there are no symptoms for this side effect
Serious side effects
Serious side effects are rare and happen in less than 1 in 1,000 people.
Stop taking rosuvastatin and call a doctor if you get:
- muscle pain, tenderness, weakness or cramps - these can be signs of muscle breakdown and kidney damage
- yellow skin or the whites of your eyes turn yellow - these can be signs of liver problems
- severe stomach pain - this can be a sign of pancreas problems
- a cough, shortness of breath and weight loss - these can be signs of lung disease
Less than 1 in 10,000 people may experience memory loss.
If you experience problems with your memory, speak to your doctor, as it may be unrelated to rosuvastatin.
Do not stop taking the medicine without talking to your doctor first.
Serious allergic reaction
In rare cases, it's possible to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to rosuvastatin.
Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E if:
- you get a skin rash that may include itchy, red, swollen, blistered or peeling skin
- you're wheezing
- you get tightness in the chest or throat
- you have trouble breathing or talking
- your mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat start swelling
You could be having a serious allergic reaction and may need immediate treatment in hospital.
These are not all the side effects of rosuvastatin.
For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicines packet.
You can report any suspected side effect to the UK safety scheme.
6. How to cope with side effects
What to do about:
- feeling sick - stick to simple meals and do not eat rich or spicy food. It might help to take your rosuvastatin after a meal or snack. Contact your doctor if your symptoms continue for more than a few days or get worse.
- headaches - make sure you rest and drink plenty of fluids. Do not drink too much alcohol. Ask your pharmacist to recommend a painkiller. Talk to your doctor if they last longer than a week or are severe.
- stomach pain - try to rest and relax. It can help to eat and drink slowly and have smaller and more frequent meals. Putting a heat pad or covered hot water bottle on your tummy may also help. If you're in a lot of pain, speak to your pharmacist or doctor.
- feeling weak or dizzy - if rosuvastatin makes you feel dizzy or weak, stop what you're doing and sit or lie down until you feel better. Do not drive or use tools or machinery if you're feeling tired. Do not drink alcohol as it'll make you feel worse.
- constipation - eat more high-fibre foods, such as fresh fruit, vegetables and cereals, and drink plenty of water. Try to exercise more regularly, for example, by going for a daily walk or run. If this does not help, talk to your pharmacist or doctor. Watch this short video about how to treat constipation.
- protein in your pee - this usually returns to normal on its own without you having to stop taking rosuvastatin. Your doctor may want to monitor you to check this happens.
7. Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Rosuvastatin is not recommended during pregnancy or breastfeeding, as there's no firm evidence it's safe.
If you want to get pregnant, speak to your doctor. It's best to stop taking rosuvastatin at least 3 months before you start trying for a baby.
If you become pregnant while taking rosuvastatin, stop taking the medicine and tell your doctor.
Rosuvastatin and breastfeeding
It's not known if rosuvastatin passes into breast milk, but it may cause problems for your baby.
Speak to your doctor about what's best for you and your baby while you're breastfeeding.
It may be possible to delay starting or restarting rosuvastatin until you have stopped breastfeeding completely.
Non-urgent advice: Tell your doctor if you're:
- trying to get pregnant
8. Cautions with other medicines
Some medicines and rosuvastatin can interfere with each other and increase the chances of you having side effects.
Tell your doctor if you're taking:
- antibiotics, such as erythromycin
- some antiviral medicines used to treat infections, such as HIV and hepatitis
- medicine for indigestion, such as Gaviscon
- blood-thinning medicines, such as clopidogrel and warfarin
- ciclosporin, used to treat psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis
- contraceptive pills and hormone replacement therapy
- other medications used to lower cholesterol
If you're taking rosuvastatin and need to take one of these medicines, your doctor may lower your dose or prescribe a different statin.
If you need to take an antibiotic, your doctor might recommend you stop taking rosuvastatin for a while.
These are not all the medicines that can interfere with rosuvastatin.
For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicine packet or check with your pharmacist.
Mixing rosuvastatin with herbal remedies and supplements
There's very little information about taking herbal remedies and supplements while you use rosuvastatin.
For safety, tell your doctor and pharmacist if you're taking any other medicines, including herbal remedies, vitamins or supplements.
9. Common questions
How does rosuvastatin work?
Rosuvastatin acts on the liver to stop it making cholesterol. This lowers your cholesterol level.
For the first 12 months on this medicine, you'll be offered some routine tests to make sure your liver is working normally.
How long does rosuvastatin take to work?
Rosuvastatin starts to work within a week to reduce cholesterol, but it can take up to a month to achieve its full effect.
How long will I take rosuvastatin for?
Usually you'll take rosuvastatin for life. The benefits will only continue for as long as you take it.
If you stop taking rosuvastatin without starting a different treatment, your cholesterol level may rise again.
Is it safe to take rosuvastatin for a long time?
Rosuvastatin is safe to take for a long time, even many years.
In fact, it works best when you take it for a long time.
Are statins safe?
You may have read negative stories about statins, but they're thought to be very safe, effective medicines.
Statins are thought to have very few side effects.
Sometimes the side effects that people report are not related to their medicine.
But if you're concerned about the safety of statins, talk to your doctor.
What will happen if I stop taking it?
You may want to stop rosuvastatin if you think you're having side effects.
Talk to your doctor first to see if it really is a side effect of rosuvastatin or an unrelated problem.
Your doctor may decide to lower your dose or change your medicine. You will not get any withdrawal symptoms.
If you want to stop taking your medicine, it's important to find another way to lower your cholesterol.
Is rosuvastatin addictive?
No, there's no evidence that rosuvastatin is addictive.
You will not get any withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it.
How does it compare with other statins?
There are several other statin medicines, including:
Statins all work in the same way, but they differ in how well they lower cholesterol.
When used at a higher dose, rosuvastatin and atorvastatin produce a bigger reduction in cholesterol than the other statins.
If you have a side effect with one statin, it may not happen with another.
Some medicines do not mix well with one statin, but are OK to take with other ones.
Your doctor will find the right statin and dose for you, depending on your medical history, cholesterol level and the other medicines you take.
Will taking rosuvastatin increase my risk of diabetes?
If you're at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, taking statins may slightly increase this risk.
This is because statins can raise your blood sugar a little.
Speak to your doctor, who will be able to explain how the benefits of taking statins are likely to outweigh this small increased risk.
If you already have type 2 diabetes, your doctor may advise monitoring your blood sugar levels more closely for the first few months.
Tell your doctor or diabetes nurse if you find it harder to control your blood sugar.
Does it help to take supplements together with statins?
There's some interest in taking CoQ10 together with statins.
But there's no firm evidence that taking CoQ10 at the same time as rosuvastatin will benefit your health. More research is needed.
Can I drink alcohol with it?
Yes, you can drink alcohol while taking rosuvastatin.
But drinking a lot of alcohol may mean you're more likely to get muscle and liver side effects.
Try not to drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week.
A standard glass of wine (175ml) is 2 units. A pint of lager or beer is usually 2 to 3 units of alcohol.
Will it stop my contraception working?
For women, rosuvastatin may slightly increase the hormones released into your system from some contraceptive pills.
You'll still be protected from pregnancy, but this could increase your chances of having side effects from contraceptive pills.
If you have any side effects, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Will it affect my fertility?
There's no firm evidence to suggest that taking rosuvastatin will reduce fertility in either men or women.
But if you're a woman and you're trying to get pregnant, talk to your doctor first.
This medicine is not recommended in pregnancy.
Can I drive or ride a bike?
Sometimes rosuvastatin can make you feel dizzy.
If this happens to you, do not drive, cycle or use machines or tools until you feel better.
Can lifestyle changes help?
Reducing your cholesterol may mean you do not need to be prescribed a statin medicine.
There are lifestyle changes you can make that will help lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke: