Harvard Heart Letter

Ask the doctor: Does it matter when I take a statin?

Ask the doctor

Does it matter when I take a statin?

Q. My doctor put me on a statin and told me to take it after dinner. I would rather take it with breakfast. Does it matter?

A. Statins block an enzyme that helps the liver make cholesterol. In most people, cholesterol production peaks late in the evening. The body breaks down fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (generic, Mevacor), pravastatin (generic, Pravachol), and simvastatin (generic, Zocor) fairly quickly. So taking them in the evening ensures that you have enough medicine on board when you need it the most. Two other statins, atorvastatin (Lipitor) and rosuvastatin (Crestor) aren't broken down as readily, so you can take them any time.

That said, the liver also makes plenty of cholesterol when the sun is up. If taking your statin with breakfast is the best way for you to guarantee that you down it every day, then do that. Taking your statin early is better than taking it on a hit-or-miss basis.

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