How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

This combination product contains 2 active ingredients: amlodipine and atorvastatin. Amlodipine belongs to a group of medications known as calcium channel blockers. It reduces blood pressure and the workload on the heart by relaxing the walls of the blood vessels. It is used to lower blood pressure and to treat angina (chest pain).

Atorvastatin belongs to a group of medications known as HMG CoA reductase inhibitors (also known as "statins"). It is used in combination with diet and exercise to treat high cholesterol. It works by blocking an enzyme that is needed to make cholesterol in the body.

This combination medication is recommended if you are already taking each medication individually. It usually takes 2 to 4 weeks to affect blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

GD-amlodipine/atorvastatin is no longer being manufactured for sale in Canada. For brands that may still be available, search under amlodipine-atorvastatin. This article is being kept available for reference purposes only. If you are using this medication, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for information about your treatment options.

How should I use this medication?

This medication is usually taken once daily. It can be taken with or without food, but it should not be taken with grapefruit juice. It is best if you take it at the same time each day. The dose will vary depending on your blood pressure and cholesterol levels and may need to be adjusted based on your response to the treatment, as measured by blood tests.

Many things can affect the dose of a medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important to take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Store this medication at room temperature, protect it from moisture, and keep it out of the reach of children.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not take this medication if you:

  • are allergic to amlodipine, atorvastatin, or any ingredients of the medication
  • are pregnant or breast-feeding
  • are taking the medication cyclosporine
  • are taking antiviral medications used to treat hepatitis C
  • have active liver disease or unexplained abnormal results to liver tests
  • have very low blood pressure

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • ankle swelling
  • constipation or diarrhea
  • difficulty sleeping
  • dizziness, especially when getting up from a sitting or lying position
  • drowsiness or fatigue
  • erectile difficulties
  • gas
  • general feeling of being unwell
  • hair loss
  • headache
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea or vomiting
  • neck pain
  • nightmares
  • ringing in the ears
  • skin rash
  • stomach pain or upset

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • change in heart rhythm or increased heart rate
  • changes in vision
  • confusion
  • cough
  • fever
  • increased occurrence or severity of chest pains
  • loss of strength
  • numbness or tingling sensation in the hands or fingers
  • palpitations (pounding or racing heartbeat)
  • poor memory
  • shortness of breath
  • signs of depression (e.g., poor concentration, changes in weight, changes in sleep, decreased interest in activities, thoughts of suicide)
  • symptoms of high blood sugar (e.g., frequent urination, increased thirst, excessive eating, unexplained weight loss, poor wound healing, infections, fruity breath odour)
  • symptoms of liver damage (e.g., yellow skin or eyes, abdominal pain, dark urine, pale stools, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, or itching)
  • symptoms of muscle problems (e.g., muscle pain, tenderness or weakness, or brown or discoloured urine), especially if you also have a fever or a general feeling of being unwell
  • generalized weakness

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • muscle stiffness, uncontrolled body movement
  • signs of a heart attack (e.g., chest pain or pressure, pain extending through shoulder and arm, nausea and vomiting, sweating)
  • symptoms of a serious allergic reaction (e.g., hives, swelling of the face and throat, and difficulty breathing)
  • symptoms of pancreatitis (e.g., abdominal pain on the upper left side, back pain, nausea, fever, chills, rapid heartbeat, swollen abdomen)
  • symptoms of a serious skin reaction (e.g., skin rash; redness of the skin; skin peeling; or blisters on the lips, eyes, or mouth) possibly with headache, fever, chills, cough, or body aches

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin taking a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should take this medication.

Alcohol: People who drink large quantities of alcohol while taking this medication should be closely monitored by their doctor. Talk to your doctor to find out what your daily maximum alcohol intake should be.

Diabetes: Amlodipine - atorvastatin may cause an increase in blood sugar levels (may cause a loss of blood glucose control) and glucose tolerance may change. People with diabetes may find it necessary to monitor their blood sugar more frequently while using this medication.

If you have diabetes or are at risk for developing diabetes, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Diet and exercise: This medication is not a substitute for a healthy diet and exercise. Remember that the medication works best if combined with exercise and a low-fat, low-salt diet.

Dizziness: Amlodipine - atorvastatin can cause severe dizziness, especially when rising from a sitting or lying position. This is more likely to happen when you first start taking this medication, when the dose is increased or when you are also taking other medications with similar side effects. To prevent dizziness, rise slowly from a lying or sitting position. If this medication makes you dizzy, don't drive or operate machinery.

Kidney function: Poor kidney function may put you at an increased risk of developing muscle effects. If you have reduced kidney function or a history of reduced kidney function, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Liver function: Laboratory tests show that signs of harmful effects to the liver may occur for a small percentage of people who take this medication for long periods of time. When this medication is stopped, liver function usually slowly returns to normal. Your doctor will monitor you by having tests done regularly to monitor your liver function. If you have active liver disease or unexplained abnormal liver test results, you should not take this medication.

If you have a history of liver disease, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed. If you experience symptoms of liver problems such as fatigue, feeling unwell, loss of appetite, nausea, yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, dark urine, pale stools, abdominal pain or swelling, and itchy skin, contact your doctor immediately.

Muscle effects: This medication contains atorvastatin. In rare cases, severe muscle pain, cramps, and weakness have been associated with the use of statin medications (e.g., atorvastatin, fluvastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin, rosuvastatin, or simvastatin), especially at higher doses. Before taking this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you:

  • are frail (i.e., in poor health or weak)
  • are more than 65 years old
  • are taking niacin or a fibrate medication (e.g., bezafibrate, gemfibrozil, fenofibrate)
  • participate in excessive physical exercise
  • have a history of muscle pain or weakness while taking other "statin" medications (such as atorvastatin, fluvastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin, simvastatin)
  • have a personal or family history of inherited muscle problems
  • have an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism or low thyroid)
  • have diabetes
  • have kidney or liver problems
  • have undergone surgery or had any traumatic injury
  • regularly drink 3 or more alcoholic drinks per day

Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, weakness or cramps, or any brown or discoloured urine, particularly if you are also experiencing malaise (a general feeling of being unwell) or fever.

Recent stroke or mini-stroke: If you have had a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or "mini-stroke" in the past 6 months, you may be at an increased risk of having another stroke if you take this medication. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking this medication.

Serious allergic reaction: This medication can cause severe allergic reactions. If you develop symptoms of a severe allergic reaction (tightness in the chest or wheezing; fast or irregular heartbeat; skin rash; hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of the mouth, tongue, or throat), get immediate medical attention.

Skin reactions: Although uncommon, the atorvastatin component of this medication has been linked to serious skin reactions. If you experience symptoms of a serious skin reaction (such as skin rash; redness of the skin; skin peeling; or blisters on the lips, eyes, or mouth) with fever, chills, headache, cough, or body aches, contact your doctor immediately.

Pregnancy: This medication should not be taken by pregnant people as it can harm the developing baby. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, stop taking it immediately and call your doctor.

Breast-feeding: It is not known if atorvastatin passes into breast milk. Amlodipine does pass into breast milk. If you are breast-feeding and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of the amlodipine - atorvastatin combination have not been established for children. Discuss the risks and benefits of using this medication for children with your doctor.

Seniors: Seniors may require a lower dose than younger people. Seniors may also be at increased risk for muscle related problems. Your doctor will monitor you closely for side effects.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

For a full list of interactions, use the Drug Interaction Checker available on the website.

If you are taking other medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.

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